On May, 14, 2006, Sprawl-Busters criticized Wal-Mart for trying to avoid size limits in effect in Tallahassee, Florida to prevent superstore sprawl. The Leon County, Florida Board of Adjustment and Appeals board was asked by Wal-Mart to exempt the former
Sam’s Club site — that they left empty — from regulations limiting new commercial development near Lake Jackson. New commercial development is limited to 20,000 square feet per building, unless a waiver is granted. The Friends of Lake Jackson, who oppose the Wal-Mart, argue that a supercenter six times beyond the limit is unacceptable. The proposed store will have a negative impact on forested ravines behind the property and water that drains into the nearby lake. “Our position is this is the wrong project on the wrong site,” one member of the Friends testified before the Board. City officials are not even sure the Wal-Mart waiver request is legal, and that issue was put off until the Board meets again on July 13th. The Sam’s club was open for 18 years, then Wal-Mart shut it down, proposed to build on the same lot a 200,000 s.f. supercenter — twice the size of the empty Sam’s Club. When the large proposal was shot down, Wal-Mart came back with a 120,000 s.f. store, with new stormwater treatment ponds. Wal-Mart said it would buy and conserve 20 acres of ravines. Wal-Mart asserted that it had met the demands of the neighbors, but admitted it would not concede to neighborhood demands that the store not operate 24 hours per day. Wal-Mart also refused to reduce the building size below 120,000 s.f.
Residents of Tallahassee have already won a partial victory by getting Wal-Mart to shrink their store. But the Friends of Lake Jackson say that a store more than two football fields in size is still way out of conformance with the intent of the zoning code. The land Wal-Mart picked was designed to support smaller businesses, and be environmentally more compatible with the Lake Jackson area. Wal-Mart wants a special deal, and residents see no need to give them a special waiver. For earlier stories, search by “Tallahassee.”