Residents in Rapid City, South Dakota are celebrating this week the rapid departure of a planned Wal-Mart superstore. According to a report sent to Sprawl-Busters, “We beat Wal-Mart, sort of. We did stop them from building their store on the scenic highway to Mt. Rushmore here in the Black Hills. It was quite the battle but they are now back at the point where they should have started-looking for a site that is not creating sprawl and is in an area that will support the monster development that they create. It all came down to stopping the developers from taking whatever they wanted to get the Wal-Mart store on their piece of land. If Wal-Mart is looking for land, tell people to get to the developers before Wal-Mart does — and don’t give up. The adjacent landowners were extremely important in stopping this monster!!” According to a report by KELO TV, “After stirring up controversy and emotions in Rapid City, Wal-Mart has decided not to buy land south of town to build a second store.” Last month the voters in Rapid City approved plans for a second supercenter in the city, but Wal-Mart is leaving anyway. A representative from the group that opposed Wal-Mart, the Smart Growth Coalition, was quoted as saying, “Well I’m really pleased. This is a win for the people!” But one city councilman felt burned by Wal-Mart. “There’s a certain level of frustration and disappointment — frustration in the fact that so much effort was put into it.” Wal-Mart’s public explanation noted that they canceled on the site because of “last minute transaction issues with landowners nearby.” The TV station said the landowners could not agree on road access and utility service. Whatever the reason, opponents are celebrating a win, and saying that Wal-Mart needs to look for a more suitable site. “We objected to them at that site. We thought it was a leap too far,” an opponent told KELO. One city official added, “Maybe we can find spots more suitable or easier to accept for individuals who are opposed to what they consider as leap frog development.” The city is now considering rezoning the land Wal-Mart wanted back to agricultural use.
As we have said many times, these site fights aren’t over ’till the fat company sings. In this case, it was abutting landowners who squeezed Wal-Mart out. For local contacts in Rapid City, contact [email protected]