Like a mosquito looking for an arm to land on, Wal-Mart is having a hard time landing in Seminole County, Florida. The giant retailer tried to put a supercener in Oviedo, Florida on Red Bug Lake Road in February of 2002, but local officials swatted that project out of the air, and the company was forced to land elsewhere. A second shopping center plan on Red Bug Lake road was also rejected, with Wal-Mart the suspected anchor. So they found some land just down the road, outside the limits of Oviedo in Seminole County — but still on Red Bug Lake. But this week, on July 8th, the Seminole County planning board unanimously slapped that location down also. The Planning board’s vote, however, is in the form of a recommendation to the County Commisioners, who will take the matter up on August 12th. Part of the reason Wal-Mart has “bugged” locals, is that their plans for a 230,000 s.f. supercenter — about the size of 6 football fields — has lots of residential property surrounding it, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Traffic, crime and local economic impact helped convince county planners to de-bug the Wal-Mart plan. “I don’t know what law there is that says there has to be a Wal-Mart every four miles,” county resident Susan Kastrinos was quoted as saying in the Sentinel. Wal-Mart tried to woo residents with arguments that the store would be buffered from nearby homes by a lake and park area, and the architecture would not follow the standard Wal-Mart style — but neighbors didn’t go for the bait. “A pig may be dressed up, said one Oviedo resident. “But it’s still a pig, and a pig doesn’t need to live there.” The Planning Board pointed out that a “less intense” project would be more appropriate, since this land was in a transition area between heavy commercial development and people’s homes.
One would think that it’s time for Wal-Mart to give up on Red Bug Lake Road, but often the company will list out multiple sites in an area, let the developers pursue them up front, and let the developers put in the hard work to make them happen. If none pan out, you fly on. Good thing Wal-Mart has a strong set of wings.