Wal-Mart Developers Give Up Fight. That’s the headline in the Tri-County Times in Fenton, MI. A spokesman for the developer, AIG Baker of Alabama, told the paper: “Right now I don’t believe we have any further plans for Fenton, Michigan.” The developer had been trying to win approval for a Wal-Mart store in this community just north of Flint since October of 1997. According to the Tri-County Times, “public outcry against the development was overwhelming”. Residents in the city and the township expressed concern over the impact of the store on efforts to revitalize the central business district, and traffic problems in an already congested section of roadway. The project did not conform with Fenton’s comprehensive land use plan, and their zoning ordinance. Fenton township, just outside the city where the Wal-Mart would be built, had vowed to initiate legal action against the city if the project was approved. Township Supervisor Carl Gabrielson was quoted as saying: “It will be nice not to worry about our wells drying up and our lakes polluted.” The publisher of the Tri-County Times actively opposed the Wal-Mart project. “This whole episode shows that it doesn’t matter how big or powerful you think you are,” said publisher Rick Rockman, Jr. “When a small group of citizens and business owners band together, they can fight off anything that’s not in the best interest of the tri-county area.” Wal-Mart initially denied that they were interested in Fenton, but did eventually acknowlege their intent to lcoate on land that bordered a residential housing development on one side. According to the Fenton Building Inspector, the Alabama developer has asked for his escrow money back, another sign that Wal-Mart is gone from Fenton. Planners had insisted that Wal-Mart move its store to another end of the property to keep it as far away from abutting residences as possible. It is rumored that a store at the other end of the property would have had serious drainage and sewage problems.
For further information about the Wal-Mart flop in Fenton, contact Vera Hogan at the Tri-County Times: 810-629-8282.