On February 19, 2007, Sprawl-Busters reported that the Planning Commission in Groton, Connecticut had rejected a proposal from Konover Development to construct a 200,000 s.f. Wal-Mart superstore on 30 acres of land in a water resource protection district. Wal-Mart already has a discount store on Route 184 in Groton, which would be closed. The Commission voted 4-1 to reject the plan. The Planning Commission cited nine reasons for rejection, including inadequate storm-water management, and the handling of hazardous materials. The town’s planner told the Associated Press it was “the most involved project we’ve ever seen this close to a water supply.” At the time, Konover said it was disappointed by the decision, and foreshadowed litigation when they charged that the Planning Commission exceeded its authority. The developer was considering an appeal, a Wal-Mart spokesman said. Several Planning Commission members said the application failed to meet town regulations. Two weeks after the rejection, a lawyer from Konover told the AP that his firm was, in fact, suing the town. Konover says the town’s planners were asking the developer to “do more than the regulations requires,” according to the news service.
What you can’t get by regulation, pursue by litigation. That’s the unspoken plan of most big box companies and their developers. Shortly after Konover announced its intention to sue, The Day newspaper in New London, Connecticut printed a letter to the editor from a resident in Groton which summed up the situation: “The decision by Konover, obviously backed by Wal-Mart, strikes me as a case of big money trying to bully the opposition into changing its position and allowing the project to proceed, despite potential harm to citizens’ health. This makes me angry as I don’t care for bullies any more than I approve of said bullies ramming something down my throat — in this case, drinking water that tastes slightly of used motor oil. I would be in favor of helping financially support a special legal defense fund, should one be developed by appropriate parties to resist the Konover attack against commission members. The commission deserves our support for its efforts on our behalf. Although I have made occasional purchases at the existing Groton Wal-Mart, I am somewhat embarrassed for having done so, thus depriving smaller retailers of my business. In view of Konover’s lawsuit, I pledge not to support any Wal-Mart store unless the Konover lawsuit is withdrawn, and only then will I do business with Wal-Mart as a last resort, if no one else has the product available. This issue is about money and if enough local citizens feel and act the same as I, maybe Wal-Mart and Konover will get the point.” For earlier stories, search Newflash by “Groton” and “Konover.”