There are towns in America known as communities that Wal-Mart killed twice — once when they opened, and a second time when they closed. This week Sprawl-Busters received an SOS from the community of Sherwood, Arkansas. It seems that Wal-Mart has risen from the dead, and has some residents up in arms that they are back. Here’s their report: “Sherwood is right outside of Little Rock, Arkansas, and in the home state of Wal-Mart. Help! Wal-Mart left Sherwood a couple of years ago, much to the dismay of the city officials, because it meant a loss of sales tax revenue. Sherwood does not levy a
property tax, gets only portions of motor fuels tax, and small amounts of other tax and primarily relies upon sales tax to operate. After Wal-Mart left, other businesses stepped up to the plate and took over the space. Kohl’s even built a new store on the other side of the freeway. Now, Wal-Mart has staked out some residential property on the other side of town that it wants rezoned to commercial property in the heart of a typical, low-traffic, residential area that is mostly homes, schools, and churches. The nature of the land is rural. An adjoining city’s airport is in this area, as is the State National Guard base, the State Veteran’s Cemetery, and a recreational facility used by the city. There is an abundance of undeveloped and underdeveloped commercial property on Kiehl Ave. in Sherwood that, if Wal-Mart built a supercenter there, would increase the traffic to other businesses in the commercial area. However, Wal-Mart building where it intends to build will split the commercial district irreparably, as Sherwood only has a population of 35,000 and cannot support two large shopping areas. We are homeowners who are going to be adversely affected. However, we didn’t get much info on this until about 2 weeks ago. The Planning Commission voted on Tuesday to recommend to city council adoption of the rezoning ordinance. Not sure how much time we have to get something done.”
Like Lazarus, Wal-Mart has risen from the dead. The retailer has closed hundreds of discount stores, leaving communities like Sherwood without any major retailer, because the smaller stores died off. In this case, another national chain showed up, but now Wal-Mart wants back in at another, larger site. Because this is a rezoning, Wal-Mart has no right to city approval. The proposal must satisfy city criteria for a rezoning, and it also opens the door for local residents to get organized and take this rezoning to court. The city obviously has this plan on a fast track, and although Wal-Mart loves it when the public comes to their store to shop, they are less welcoming when the public shows up to zoning hearings to stop their superstores.