Sprawl-Busters reported on December 6, 2005 that Wal-Mart had returned to the scene of a defeat back in 1999, when their plans to build in Saranac Lake were scuttled. We received the following two reports this week from citizens on the frontlines of this small upstate New York Community: “Our community is under attack AGAIN! Recently at a village board meeting, a local politician announced he has been “courting” Wal-Mart for 3 years! There had been many rumors about Wal-Mart being interested in a parcel 1 mile outside of town, but nothing confirmed until Monday. Our village is divided on the Wal-Mart issue. Those of us who are fighting to keep them out, are aware of the devastation of
sprawl. We are a town of just 5,000 and WM wants to build a 121,000 sq. ft. supercenter! We have been very organized, contacting local politicians, holding meetings, sending newsletters, etc. There is a village election on March 21, and we are supporting a Mayoral candidate and 2 trustees who are against the proposed Wal-Mart. If the alternative (pro Wal-Mart) candidates make it into office, we will have a battle too big to fight! This election will probably have the biggest voter turnout in our village’s history.” A second report came on the heels of the first: “Turns out the Essex County manager has been secretly negotiating with Wal-Mart, without orders (they say) for several years. Wal-Mart wants to purchase a 15 acre parcel on the east (Lake Placid) end of town. 5 of which are privately-owned and already optioned to the retailer. However, 10 acres are Village-owned, zoned residential, and will be decisive. We have a Village election on March 21st. The Republican slate is pro, the Democractic slate not overtly anti, but says “let’s take a nice long look at this, and not give away the village under any circumstances”. If Republicans win, the Wal-Mart will probably happen. 3 groups critical of Wal-Mart are working together, all efforts on the election.”
You can bet that Wal-Mart money is flowing into the campaign coffers of these local politicians. But it will not be reported until after the election, based on campaign finance reporting laws. Final finance reports are not due until after the election results. The fact is, this land is not properly zoned, and whomever wins on March 21st should remember that other people in the village who bought homes nearby knowing this land was residential, will be hurt if it is changed dramatically in use and intensity. Let Wal-Mart find land that is already commerciall zoned, and leave residential land alone. Saranac Lake residents should also look to their Comprehensive Plan for guidance on how this land is supposed to be used.