Tunkhannock township, Pennsylvania, had a population in 2006 of 4,327 people. That’s about where the population stood in 1990. The township promotes itself as being located “within The Pocono Plateau, considered one of the world’s Top 40 ‘Last Great Places’ By The Nature Conservancy.” Today it is being considered by Wal-Mart as a Great Place to build a superstore. There already is a Wal-Mart discount store on State Road, Route 29 South in Tunkhannock. There’s also a Wal-Mart supercenter 17 miles away in Dickson City, and 22 miles away in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. According to the Scranton Times-Tribune, Wal-Mart dropped off plans for a 153,000 s.f. superstore just south of Tunkhannock off Route 29 — right across the street from the existing Wal-Mart. The project will have to be reviewed by the Wyoming County, Pennsylvania Planning Office. The Wyoming County Planning Commission will review the project for the first time at its June 18th meeting. Wal-Mart has a purchase agreement with the landowner, Select Sires of Ohio. A spokesman for the landowner said the land has not yet been sold. This is a return trip for Wal-Mart. The company was working on a 184,212 s.f. superstore plan for the same property back in 2006, but in the summer of that year, the retailer pulled its application from consideration by the Planning Commission. The county required Wal-Mart to show that it had agreements for certain easements that were needed for right-of-way. Two years later, the new plan does not need those easements, but part of the land does fall into the Bowmans Creek Watershed. Wal-Mart also is seeking approval for 2 small retail parcels in addition to its superstore plan. If the supercenter opens, the existing 75,000 s.f. Wal-Mart discount store will close down.
If the Wal-Mart store in Tunkhannock is shut down, there will be three dead Wal-Marts in Pennsylvania. The two “dark stores” now on the market, one in Horsham, the other in Uniontown, are both over 100,000 s.f. This Tunkhannock project brings no added value economically to the local trade area, because Wal-Mart brings nothing new to the area. Most of its sales and jobs will be transferred from their store across the street. This is simply corporate leap-frogging, not economic development. Readers are urged to email the Wyoming County Planning Commission Chairman Walter Derhammer, at [email protected] with the following message: “Dear Chairman Derhammer, I hope you will reject Wal-Mart’s plans for a huge supercenter across the street from its existing store. All the area will get out of this project is a dead store (which will not be easy to fill — see the dead stores in Uniontown and Horsham) and a larger Wal-Mart that will kill off some of your area grocery stores. This is not economic development, and it’s a prime example of the kind of roadside sprawl the county should be discouraging in the Pocono Plateau. The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 14,000 acres already in the Poconos Mountains — it makes little sense to squander any land for suburban development that is just leap-frogging over itself. This building is three times the size of a football field — not even counting the parking lot. One Wal-Mart is one more than enough in Tunkhannock.”