More than 200 residents of Edmond, OK told planning officials on Nov. 16th. that they don’t want a 200,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter in the middle of their residential neighborhoods. “We are not here to discuss what can be done to make Wal-Mart acceptable to this community,” resident Brian Vaughan said. “We already know that Wal-Mart is not acceptable no matter what you do.” According to the Daily Oklahoman, neighbors refused to follow the script for the meeting, and instead said there was no point in debating the merits of the store — people just didn’t want it. The Edmond City Council hopes to have a recommendation from the Planning Board by December 14th, and the city is pushing to widen a 2 land road fronting the site to 4 lanes to accomodate Wal-Mart. One Wal-Mart representative at the hearing was described as saying his company did not anticipate such emotional opposition to the store at the hearing. But instead of withdrawing their plans, Wal-Mart offered to build a wall to block off nearby homes (hence the name Wall-Mart), and they offered to adjust the lighting in the parking lot of the 24 hour store. Residents say the new store would increase crime (see next story below), lower property values, and turn their quiet streets into traffic gridlock. The President of the Trails Homeowners Association told local officials: “If the majority of people are against this, why would you allow it in the first place?” When asked why Wal-Mart wouldn’t consider another site, their real estate public relations flak said other sites were too close to the Wal-Mart that Edmond already has, or too far from the customer base. Wal-Mart told residents it had done extensive research before picking their unpopular site. “When we are looking at investing more than $10 million in a community, we don’t want to make any mistakes,” he said. The only mistake Wal-Mart seems to have made is grossly misreading the staunch opposition to their plans from the people they want to call neighbors.
Edmond does not need what it already has — a Wal-Mart and a Sam’s. This is another case of superstore saturation. To express your opinion on the matter, go to the Daily Oklahoman website, and send them a letter to the editor suggesting that Wal-Mart learn to respect the wishes of the neighbors in Edmond.