You could have heard a rotten apple drop this week at the Apple Valley, California Planning Board meeting.
According to the Victorville Daily News, the Planning Board unanimously approved development, conditional use and special use permits for a Wal-Mart superstore, with “no residents speaking for or against the coming store.”
The Daily News says the new store could be under construction by the fall. Some environmental concerns have forced the clearing and grading of the site to wait until late summer. Once construction begins, a store takes 8 to 12 months to complete.
Apple Valley is not likely to gain much economically from this larger Wal-Mart, because the new store will shut down the existing Wal-Mart store # 2333 a mile away on Route 18.
Wal-Mart has promised town officials that it will work to “backfill” their empty discount store in Apple Valley. The assistant manager of Economic and Community Development told the newspaper that once new construction was “locked down,” the retailer would announce new tenants for their old store.
Wal-Mart already has a huge distribution center in Apple Valley, which happens to be the company’s largest solar power project at a distribution center. The Apple Valley Distribution Center solar project consists of more than 5,300 ground-mounted solar panels that cover a nearly seven-acre field and supply one megawatt (MW) power — the equivalent of powering 175 homes.
When this solar project was completed last January, an Apple Valley town councilor was quoted in the retailer’s press release as saying, “I’m excited to see that Wal-Mart chose Apple Valley as one of its first sites for its solar energy initiative.”
But instead of reducing its carbon footprint at its store in Apple Valley, the retailer is shutting down a usable store to leap a mile away to larger space. Very inefficient and environmentally wasteful.
Despite the warm embrace from the Apple Valley Planning Board, town officials are bracing for a legal battle — although it may just be a short fight. The Daily News says that Upland, California attorney Cory Briggs may be preparing a lawsuit challenging the store’s permits.
Briggs has filed a handful of lawsuits in other nearby communities, most of which he later settles. Most recently a settlement was announced in Hesperia, California, where Wal-Mart announced an end to the lawsuit last February.
This Apple Valley project is a huge 30 acre, 240,000 s.f. project which includes the Wal-Mart superstore, a bank, and two fast food restaurants. But the scale of this project doesn’t even compare to Wal-Mart’s “solar” distribution center in Apple Valley.
Readers are urged to email Apple Valley Mayor Scott Nassif at: [email protected] with the following message: “Dear Mayor Nassif, How can a small town with such a lovely name turn into the sprawl center of San Bernadino County? Your huge Wal-Mart distribution box was bad enough — but now you are allowing the retailer to shut down an existing discount store to open up a superstore one mile away!
Do you believe this leapfrog development is a form of economic growth? Did you consider that most sales at the new location will be transferred from the Highway 18 store — and the rest will come from local merchants?
Your county is going through a public Visioning Project. What will Apple Valley’s contribution be? A valley strewn with concrete boxes surrounded by asphalt fields of cars? Between Apple Valley, Hesperia and Victorville, it looks like a race to the bottom environmentally and aesthetically, and an empty economic chase for sales taxes.
The apples in Apple Valley are disappearing, and the name Sprawl Valley seems more appropriate for your town.”