Wal-Mart hit another speed bump this week in Clinton, Michigan. On August 10, 2007, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart’s lawyer was threatening to take the township of Clinton to court, because “they want to deny a Wal-Mart.” The retailer thought Clinton would make a nice place to build a 176,311 s.f. superstore on the corner of Hall Road and Romeo Plank. But the Trustees in Clinton voted unanimously in August to table the site plan — citing traffic, layout and landscaping concerns. The Trustees wanted Wal-Mart to build a boulevard from the store property, leading out to Romeo Plank so drivers can reach a Michigan turnaround to head north. “We feel as a board, unanimously that turning north onto Romeo Plank would be extremely dangerous” without it, Supervisor Bob Cannon said. The Trustees also want Wal-Mart to consider reducing its 24-hour-a-day operation — as other towns in Michigan have required. Residents from the Patridge Creek housing subdivision attended the August hearing, expressing grave concerns about the scale and location for the supercenter. One resident said, “We were under the impression it’s going to be an outdoor, high-end mall. We were never told there would be a Super Wal-Mart, 24-hours a day with an entrance on Romeo Plank.” Neighbors collected at least 600 signatures protesting the Wal-Mart location. After the August hearing, Wal-Mart’s lawyer, was quoted as saying, “They made demands of us we do not believe are permitted by law. It is obvious what they are doing — they want to deny a Wal-Mart.” This week, the delays only continued, when Trustees voted to send the Wal-Mart proposal back to the planning commission for more study. On September 4th, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to have the Planning Commission review their approval for the $25 million project, according to The Macomb Daily. The Trustees want more information on traffic safety changes Wal-Mart has consented to in other Michigan communities — but has refused to do in Clinton. But Wal-Mart’s attorney has apparently reached the end of his road. “The township has made it perfectly clear they are opposed (to the store) and will send this back and forth and make us go through hurdles to delay us so we’ll leave town,” the attorney told The Daily. Wal-Mart says a new boulevard is not part of the design, and they won’t pay the estimated $250,000 to get it built. Wal-Mart has also balked at limiting their store hours to less than 24/7. At the September hearing, around 60 neighbors showed up wearing green anti-Wal-Mart t shirts. “We are deathly afraid of what’s going to happen over there,” one resident told the paper.
Wal-Mart clearly is trying to light a fire under the Trustees to get their approval by the end of the year. When asked about the delay, a company spokesman said, “We’re evaluating our options.” “Their decision is wrong,” Wal-Mart’s lawyer said after the hearing. “It violates the law, but they’re obviously trying to keep Wal-Mart from building a store there.” The lawyer said he was waiting to hear from Wal-Mart before filing suit. One Detroit Free Press reader commented on that newspaper’s story: “I am trying to figure out why they are even building ANOTHER Wal-Mart in this location. They have one 3 miles east at M59 and I94 that was just totally refurbished, another 4 miles west at M59 and Mound, and still another at 23 MIle and M53. It is a waste of space and money — not to mention more concrete and less trees, fields, etc. Macomb county is becoming a concrete county. A lot of people who have been out here since the 70’s really miss the wide open fields and sod farms. Now we are getting more and more houses, stores, and of course the traffic and lights to go with them.” Wal-Mart’s big rush to build in Clinton could lead to a courtroom — not a ribbon cutting. Any legal appeal they make could set their timetable back by six months to a year, or longer. To help the residents of Clinton, readers should call the township’s main number at (586) 286-8000, and leave this message for the Trustees: “Please tell the Trustees to keep the pressure on Wal-Mart to pay for all road improvements on Romeo Plank. There is no need for another Wal-Mart nearly 3 times the size of a football field, and its doesn’t fit into the township’s vision plan.”