It’s not easy these days for Wal-Mart to slip a supercenter into any town. More and more, all it takes is some heavy breathing at Wal-Mart to get communities upset. Here’s a report to Sprawl-Busters from the frontlines of a battle in Boonville, Missouri, where they already have a Wal-Mart: “Just wanted to make you aware of a terrific battle going on in our town to stop the annexation into our town of 28 acres of pristine nature to build a Super Wal-Mart. In January we went to the city council and opposed a proposal for the city to give Wal-Mart $550,000 for improvements, and got that defeated 8-0. Wal-Mart came roaring back in May with plans to do it on their own, but we have some great momentum going from our grassroots efforts over the past several weeks. We have had two public hearings and we are turning out so many people that both have had to be moved from city hall to an assembly hall to accomodate the crowd. Under Missouri law, our next step is to demand a vote of the citizens on the annexation and we will start have our petition out in the next couple of days, we only need 96 signatures but will probably collect several hundred. We are a group of local residents, business people, area residents, shoppers, and (in general) lovers of the uniqueness of Boonville and the Boonslick area. We are united in our desire to prevent the development and building of a Wal-Mart Super Center at the corner of Main Street and Jackson Lane. We believe the development of this Wal-Mart Super Center to be the wrong business to be built at the wrong place in the wrong city at the wrong time! We have found from our efforts against this development that there is a strong sentiment in the community and area that the present Wal-Mart store is preferred over a new Super Center. We want to make it clear that most of us are not opposed to Wal-Mart being in Boonville but we oppose the proposed Wal-Mart Super Center. The establishment of a Wal-Mart Super Center would greatly harm the local business community including many downtown businesses and also our local grocery stores. The infrastructure in the development area is not sufficient for the proposed Supercenter development. Traffic flow will be inhibited on Main Street, which is already congested. Jackson Lane would become a gravel road near the east property line of the Supercenter, which has the possibility of becoming the worst traffic artery in the area as a result. Residents along Jackson Lane and its adjoining neighborhoods will suffer from even more heavy traffic that the road is not intended to serve. No independent engineering opinions have been solicited by the city to confirm the Wal-Mart engineering submitted with the plan for water runoff, etc., is sufficient. There appears to be no buffer between the proposed Supercenter and residents of the immediate area who live in Hickory Grove and Rankin Mill neighborhoods.”
The group notes that if the super Wal-Mart is built, the town might be left wth “an empty feeling,” as in Fulton, Missouri, where an empty Wal-Mart has sat by the roadside for eight years. For more background and local contacts in this battle, go to their website: www.notsosuperforboonville.com. The group is organizing a petition to put the annexation vote to the citizens of Boonville. The City Council is slated to vote on this matter June 6th.