The Mayor of the Village of Albion is trying to save his community from the town of Albion’s Wal-Mart proposal. Village Mayor Ed Salvatore told officials from the town of the same name, that a Wal-Mart outside the Albion village center would be a disaster for his residents. “I believe it will be the demise of our community,” the Mayor told the Town Board last week. “The village of Albion will never survive that.” The Mayor said a proposed 155,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter, which needs a rezoning from residential to commercial, would force many stores in the village central business district to close. The Mayor was not alone in that assessment. The former head of the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce told town officials that a department store was needed, but not a supercenter. The Wal-Mart project is also opposed by neighbors, who say the side roads and one-lane bridges near the project cannot handle the anticipated traffic. This summer, Wal-Mart told the village that its vacant 50,000 s.f. Ames building was too small for them. “They want to take a pristine field and destroy it,” one neighbor testified. To gain approval, Wal-Mart has to convince town of Albion officials to rezone the residential land that lies just outside of the village. According to The Daily News, Albion’s Town Supervisor said, “We’re taking it all into account, Everyone has an open mind.”
What you can do: The only party that doesn’t have an open mind is Wal-Mart. Despite the fact that a former competitor, Ames, is dead, and left an empty store behind, Wal-Mart is rejecting an alternative that other retailers would be happy to use. In at least two locations in New England, Home Depot moved into an Ames location. Wal-Mart could have had their Albion village location by simply taking the Ames site. Instead, they have pitted village against town, and forced the Mayor of the Village to speak out against the giant retailer. The village center, which has been the traditional commercial focal point for Albion town and village, will now suffer because the Ames site is not big enough to fill the appetite of Wal-Mart. The town has a legitimate and easy way out: Wal-Mart has no right to locate in the town parcel they have chosen, because it is not correctly zoned. There is no mandate that land be rezoned for a developer. The town can deny the rezoning, and force Wal-Mart to either do business in the Ames location, or fall back on one of its many nearby stores for its sales in the Albion market. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart is being sued in nearby Batavia by a group called Batavia First. That court case comes up for its first court date on October 15th. The citizens have legally challenged the decision of the town to allow Wal-Mart to expand its current discount store into a supercenter. Search this database by “Batavia” for an earlier story about that town’s lawsuit.