There are 20 Wal-Mart stores within 20 miles of Delray Beach, Florida, including a superstore 5 miles away in Boynton Beach. If residents don’t like the Boynton Beach superstore, there are 7 other Wal-Mart superstores within 20 miles.
In addition, there is an existing Wal-Mart discount store right in Delray Beach on South Military Trail. Delray Beach has more Wal-Mart’s than pelicans.
It’s no wonder then the Sun-Sentinel reports this week that a confrontation has formed between Wal-Mart and neighbors in the Tropic Isle area of Delray. The very idea of a superstore juxtaposed with a tropic isle does is incompatible. Delray is known as the ‘village by the sea.” Wal-Mart’s proposal to convert an old Buick dealership into a 24 hour superstore would change that into the “Wal-Mart by the sea.”
“It has everybody here in a state of fear,” the president of the Tropic Bay Condominium Association told the newspaper. The Association is a community of retirees mostly, whose property abuts the Wal-Mart site. “We’re merely 100 feet off the property line.”
Picture a neighborhood of small homes with tropical plants and canals near the Intracoastal Waterway. Some are townhomes, and condos — a small community unto itself. And Wal-Mart wants in.
The Tropic Isle residents don’t want a huge superstore for a neighbor. They expressed their concerns that the superstore will bring more traffic and more crime to their community, as well as destroy the smaller-scale businesses that are more indigenous to the area. “It happens everywhere Wal-Mart goes,” said the Association president.
Wal-Mart counters that the land they want is now an empty parking lot, so a superstore would make the neighborhood better. “It’s going to help the community,” a Wal-Mart public relations staffer said. “It’s on Federal Highway, and it’s an area that already has traffic.” In other words — it’s already been degraded, so what’s a little more of the same going to matter?”
The neighbors are not convinced. The Sun-Sentinel says the residents are plotting to “storm” the May 17th meeting of the Planning and Zoning board. Wal-Mart has applied for a rezoning from automotive to general commercial. This zoning change gives residents a chance to mount a legal appeal against the project that could drag on for years.
It’s just another case of Wal-Mart trying to pave over Paradise.
The absurdity of this proposal is that Wal-Mart already has superstore #2789 on Old Boynton Beach Road. That store is less than 3 miles from the Delray Beach stores on Military Trail.
What Wal-Mart is not admitting publicly is that the proposed new superstore for Delray Beach will shut down its existing discount store on Military Trail, leaving the city with a huge empty store on its hands.
The President of the Tropic Isle Civic Association, told the Sun-Sentinel she is concerned about the negative impact another superstore will have on the character of her community. “A Wal-Mart on every corner is not going to be the answer,” she complained.
In response to this pushback, Wal-Mart is going to regroup and try to come up with more beads to offer the natives. The company is planning to roll out a charm offensive to soften up the locals. “I’m not sure they (neighbors) have heard from Wal-Mart and we want them to hear from us and have a better sense of this Wal-Mart in this community,” the Wal-Mart spokesman explained. “There’s a real opportunity to discuss the value of what a store can bring.”
Readers are urged to email Mayor “Woodie” McDuffie at [email protected] with the following message: “Dear Mayor McDuffie, You have served on the Delray Beach Planning and Zoning Board. You know that Wal-Mart needs a zoning change from automotive to general commercial. This a big change in intensity of use for this sensitive area. A Wal-Mart superstore will represent a huge change in use from a car dealership, in terms of traffic, noise, light, 24 hours operation, etc. It’s like a night and day change for the Tropic Isle community.
To make matters worse — your community is over-saturated with big box stores. There are 20 Wal-Mart’s within 20 miles of Delray — including the Boynton Beach superstore just minutes away.
The other major headache you face is that this proposed superstore will shut down your existing Wal-Mart discount store on Military Trail, leaving you with a huge, empty eyesore. And unless you have a surety demolition bond requirement in your zoning code — the taxpayers could be saddled with the cost of tearing that building down.
Wal-Mart is not a form of economic development, because most of its sales will come from smaller merchants — especially grocery stores. Municipal costs will go up, the value of residential properties nearby will go down, and neighbors will feel betrayed by city government. In the end, you will see no added value from this store in terms of jobs or tax revenues.
There are many reasons to reject a rezoning. It is not an ‘as-of-right’ decision. I urge you to ask your Planning and Zoning Board to say No to the Wal-Mart rezoning, and not even move on to the site plan review. Listen to what your residents and condo Associations are telling you.”