An update on the on-going effort by residents of Topsham, Maine to stop a mall with a 205,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter (see 8/26/00 and 8/31/00 newsflashes below). It looked like duelling ballot petitions for awhile, as a developer and citizens both were seeking to bring the issue of big box retailing before local residents. Citizens tried to get a moratorium on large scale development, but when town officials deadlocked, they proposed a 90,000 s.f. cap on the size of buildings. Meanwhile, a family with extensive real estate holdings in town tried to gather signatures to put a pro-development measure on the November 7th.ballot. According to sprawl-busters in Topsham, the Selectmen voted this week to place the citizens’ zoning cap question before voters on November 7th., and to take no action on the real estate petition because its language failed to request voter action in an appropriate manner. Although citizens wanted their ordinance to go before Town Meeting next spring, they are now working to pass the measure on November 7th. They believe many town voters will be astounded to learn that peak traffic flow from proposed develoopments would hit 1,900 cars per hour — which alone is almost half of the traffic flow on the Maine Turnpike during the summer season. The biggest concern of the Topsham Citizens for Sensible Growth is that the developer promoting the Wal-Mart project, the Konover company, will spend a small fortune to try and entice votes on November 7th. It’s no secret that the developer has deep pockets, and could go over the top in Topsham with direct mailings, phone campaigns, and large newspaper ads. They are trying to warn residents that the Konover PR machine is about to lurch into action with less than 8 weeks to the election.
To help the Topsham residents raise money to offset rich developers, contact [email protected] To see another example of developers going to the ballot, see the next story about Eaton, OH.