Despite Wal-Mart’s efforts to file a plan before the town of Ballston, New York could impose a moratorium, it appears that the giant retailer will be in limbo for at least the next five months — and may never build a store in this small town. On March 1st. the Ballston Town Board voted unanimously to impose a moratorium retroactive to February 2nd. The moratorium bans any work on large scale retail projects, and the town says it will hold for the Wal-Mart supercenter plan submitted to the town on February 18th. The Widewaters group, of DeWitt, New York, notorious for its battles in Saratoga Springs and Ithaca, New York, along with Bangor, Maine, is the developer of record. Their plan calls for a 200,000 s.f. Wal-Mart superstore plus a gas station. But an outcry of opposition from local residents led to the consideration of a big box moratorium. The town’s attorney has stated that if Wal-Mart or the landowners don’t like the fact that their project has been deemed subject to the moratorium, they can sue the town. There are already three Wal-Mart supercenters within 12 miles of Ballston: Wilton 8 miles away, Halfmoon 11 miles away, and Glenville, 12 miles away. There is certainly no market need for a fourth supercenter in this tightly packed area, since a ten minute drive is all that separates Ballston Spa residents from their nearest regional supercenter. Recently, in Tumwater, Washington, Wal-Mart tried the same gambit: filing a superstore application three hours before the town voted on a moratorium. But the move in Ballston did not work, and residents now want to move forward in the five month period ahead to come up with a new zoning code that makes it clear that big box stores have already saturated the area, and that size matters to small town Ballston.
For earlier stories on this community, search Newsflash by “Ballston.” For similar town votes, search by “moratorium.” For other controversies surrounding the developer, search Newsflash by “Widewaters.”