In the small town of Front Royal, Virginia, the world’s largest retailer can’t build a supercenter until Town Councilor Fred Foster shows up. One man has kept the giant at bay. On June 23, the Front Royal Town Council was ready to hand the final approvals over to Wal-Mart to build a supercenter on busy Route 55, but Councilman Fred Foster was a no-show. Without Fred, the Council didn’t have a quorum. According to the local media, Fred Foster is deliberately stalling the vote by not coming to the last two consecutive meetings, leaving the Council unable to reach a quorum, and keeping Wal-Mart from millions of dollars in new sales. Front Royal Mayor Bob Tennett says the town’s code says that if Fred Foster misses one more meeting, he can be removed from office. Here’s a report local resident Lenore Bach submitted to Sprawl-Busters: ” We are at a stand-off. One lone councilman on the Town Council, named Fred Foster, has “excused” himself from their meetings in an effort to delay or hold-off the Wal-Mart re-zoning vote. The Town Council has already voted 3-0 in favor of Wal-Mart when Fred was not in attendance. But, according to the town charter, they must vote twice to ratify the first vote. Hence the reason for Mr. Foster’s absence from the Town Council Meetings: if he is not there to vote, then there is not a quorum, and any vote the council took would be illegal. I attended the Front Royal Town Council Meeting on June 23rd because the Wal-Mart re-zoning issue was on the agenda. When the opening roll call was made by town clerk, Rhonda North, she called down the row of councilmen, and when she called out the name of “absent” Councilman Fred Foster, the people in the audience loudly applauded. Mayor Tennett got a bit red faced at this. The only thing worse for Mayor Tennett would have been if the people had stood up and given Fred Foster a standing ovation right then and there. Direct democracy in action and at it’s best — you just can’t predict what the citizens will do next, or how they will spontanteously respond when forced to sit in front of predisposed, unjust, misinformed and misguided elected representatives who continue to turn a deaf ear to their pleas for help, understanding, and cooperation. How many times do I have to say this: Wal-Mart yes, Route 55 NO. What part of NO does the Front Royal Town Council not understand, choose to ignore and forever neglect?”
Lenore Bach adds the following: “It’s very tense down here in Front Royal. Fred Foster has already missed one or two regularly scheduled Town Council Meetings. Ironically, Fred Foster is the ONLY councilman who has been against the Wal-Mart rezoning since the very beginning, yet it looks like he ‘may be’ the one who gets kicked out of office because of it.” For more information on Fred Foster’s courageous stand-off against Wal-Mart, contact [email protected] For more background on this story, search Newsflash for our earlier story on “Front Royal”.