In May of 2004, Sprawl-Busters carried a story about the community of Ellenwood, Georgia, which was organizing to fight off a Wal-Mart. That was 15 months ago. This week, Wal-Mart announced that it was scrapping its plans to build a supercenter in this Henry County town, across the street from two major housing subdivisions. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the company announced the decision at a crowded town hall meeting hosted by the County Commissioners. “It was a very hard decision to make, but we felt it was appropriate at this time,” a Wal-Mart community affairs manager told the crowd. The newspaper reported that “dozens of people in the audience cheered the announcement, while an equal number of people booed.” The fact is, Wal-Mart once again got into this awkward situation by not reading the zoning map before filing its plan. The land Wal-Mart wanted for its 203, 000 s.f. store was not commercially zoned. Opponents said the store was a traffic nightmare, because access roads to the store were one lane roads. Wal-Mart would not provide any further information on their withdrawal.
This sword over the good people of Ellenwood should not have taken 15 months to resolve. Wal-Mart ends up spending an inordinate amount of money on cases that get stalled in local hearings, rile up community opposition, and lead to decisions like this one. This is the second Wal-Mart to die just this week.