Residents in Southbridge, Virginia are organizing an effort to “Stop the Big Blue Box.” According to a report in the Potomac News, Wal-Mart has it eyes on a 143,000 s.f. superstore and gas station site along the Jefferson Davis Highway, right in front of the Southbridge housing development. Prince William County is not bereft of regional Wal-Marts, with one in nearby Sudley and Woodbridge, and more locations already announced. The proposed Wal-Mart is only five miles from an existing Wal-Mart. The developer says the Wal-Mart store in Southbridge will attract roughly 9,650 cars per day, adding congestion to an already difficult Route 1 area. At least one County Supervisor is not happy with that prospect. “Route 1 is jammed as it is — traffic is a nightmare,” County Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan told the Potomac News. “I think to put a big blue box there, in front of a subdivision, is not a good idea.” Wal-Mart’s engineeer claims the store is not a supercenter, but very few Wal-Mart’s these days are being built without one. Officials told the newspaper that because the land is zoned commercial, that no public hearing will be held.
Virginia is already over-saturated with Wal-Marts. The company now has 9 empty stores in the state and 837,000 s.f. of dead space. The myth is that if land is zoned for business, that anything goes. All across the country, however, residents are challenging that simplistic, and anti-community notion. Developers like local officials to believe that you cannot regulate for size and intensity of use, but the courts have shown that such limitations are legal and gaining in popularity. For more information on the effort to send Wal-Mart south in Southbridge, contact John Dittmer at [email protected]