On January 25, 2007, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart had attempted to use the court system to intimidate public officials in Spring Township, Pennsylvania. Wal-Mart took the township to court, charging that the township’s supervisors and attorney were “biased” against the retailer’s plans for a supercenter. But a judge in Berks County, Pennsylvania rejected Wal-Mart’s claim, and ruled that the officials can continue to lead the zoning hearing for a proposed store, located at Broadcasting and Paper Mill roads. Now, four months later, the giant retailer has withdrawn its application entirely. Wal-Mart and the landowner, Tulpehocken Ltd., from Wyomissing, :Pennsylvania, announced at a public hearing two days ago that they will withdraw their plan for the shopping center on a 68-acre site. The Broadcast Pointe proposal included a Wal-Mart Supercenter, four other stores, three restaurants and a bank. The store would have replaced the Wal-Mart discount store in nearby Wyomissing. This ends a two year old controversial application that forced local residents to spring into action. At the public hearing, Wal-Mart’s lawyer read a prepared statement which read, “Wal-Mart has very carefully considered its current operations in the immediate vicinity of the supercenter proposed for the township of Spring. Based on our analysis of existing operations, Wal-Mart has decided to withdraw the conditional-use application and Tulpehocken Ltd. joins in that decision. Wal-Mart will continue to serve our Berks County customers at the Wal-Mart store in Wyomissing and other stores nearby.” That brief statement was then followed by an explosion of applause from the residents at the hearing. “That is what we have been hoping for for 23 months,” Ginny Chudgar, a spokeswoman for the group, Spring Township Organized For Proper Planning, STOPP, told the Reading Eagle.
The Board of Supervisors accepted Wal-Mart’s withdrawal, and shut down the public hearing. “We did it, folks! We Won!!” says STOPP’s website. Once again, Wal-Mart has spent two years fighting local residents, taking local officials to court, and ultimately wasting their shareholders’ time and money. Wal-Mart already has a store that serves this area, but they pushed residents too far, stimulated an opposition group into existence, and ended up pulling up stakes on their entire project. This is not only bad planning, but it is the kind of wasteful, insensitive real estate maneuvers that Wal-Mart has become infamous for. For earlier stories, search Newsflash by “Spring.”