Battles against Wal-Mart have become so commonplace, that the retailer has admitted they expect to encounter organized opposition every time a store goes through a hearing. The admission came at a project being challenged in Hawaii. The new citizen’s group, Kapolei First, turned out in force recently to let Wal-Mart know that the residents in this neighborhood do not want them around. “Wal-Mart has billions of dollars to spend on sneaking this into our community,” the group’s spokeswoman, Carolyn Golojuch, told the Star Bulletin. “We have to inform our neighbors about the unprecedented traffic nightmare that is being presented.” As Sprawl-Busters has already reported, Wal-Mart wants to open a 148,000 s.f. store on 25 acres. The retailer already has 7 discount stores in Hawaii. It just opened a controversial Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club double-decker on top of a native gravesite on Keeaumoke Street in Honolulu. Kapolei First charged that Wal-Mart plans to close a smaller discount store in Kunia if the Kapolei store is built. “Whenever we open a new store, we expect organized opposition,” a Wal-Mart spokesman admitted to the StarBulletin. “We respect people’s right to speak their minds and are committed to address their legitimate concerns. However, we will not respond to baseless accusations or personal attacks.” The citizens group has posted an online petition against the store at www.kapoleiFirst.com. Kapolei already has a Home Depot and a Big Kmart. When Wal-Mart had their first hearing before the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale neighborhood board, 200 members of Kapolei First showed up. The Board voted 6-1 to oppose the project. After the hearing, the Board decided to sent a letter to Wal-Mart asking them to build there store elsewhere. “There were many questions,” the Chair of the Neighborhood Board told the newspaper, “but there were at least 17 times when they said they didn’t know. And these were basic questions.” Even after its uncomfortable reception, a Wal-Mart official said, “It is zoned commercial, and we believe it is an appropriate place to be within the community after the (traffic) improvements are done.” But small merchants at the meeting said the Wal-Mart would put them out of business.
Kapolei First stated publicly that they had alternative ideas for this 25 acre site: a park, another school or parking for mass transit.
The vote this week by the Neighborhood Board is not-binding in anyway on the city council. The group is urging everyone to contact city councilors Todd K. Apo at [email protected] and Nestor Garcia at [email protected] The landowner, Campbell Estates, is being asked not to sell the land to Wal-Mart. They can be emailed at: [email protected] For similar stories, search Newsflash by “Hawaii.”