A developer has unveiled a plan to build a huge, 1.1 million square foot Wal-Mart distribution center on a 235 acre parcel of land roughly 3 miles south of Crescent City. The land currently is zoned for agricultural use, but that doesn’t stop Wal-Mart. The developer has asked the county to change the zoning to an industrial PUD (Planned Unit Development). The project is currently before the county planning commission. The residents learned the project is a Wal-Mart D.C., but the county’s chief of planning told the Palatka Daily News, “We don’t know if we’re even going to get a developer. This is an attempt to try to attract a developer.” But the owner, Froehlich Brothers, knows very well it’s a Wal-Mart project, and a draft agreement with the country has been reviewed. Crescent City has already offered to extend water and sewer to the site, so obviously a lot of backroom dealing has been on-going. “Properties between this and the city would have a lot of potential if water and sewer were available to them as well,” the county’s Property Appraiser told the Daily News. Clifton Road will have to be strengthened and improved to accommodate truck traffic, but the road improvement will have to be borne by county taxpayers. There are wetlands on the property, which abuts the Haw Creek Conservation Area. Residents opposed to this massive plan sent Sprawl-Busters the following report: “I am a member of the “Lake Crescent Citizens for Responsible Growth” in Crescent City, Florida. Our problem is that Wal-Mart has contacted the local Chamber of Commerce and the County Commissioners and are attempting to change area zoning. The zoning now is AG and they want it to be PUD Industrial. The land they want to change is part of a working potato farm. The area around has other farm related interests and residential areas. This was not made public until early November when the zoning change meeting signs were put out. When several people showed up for the meeting the meeting was delayed for two weeks. The second meeting was also delayed so that Wal-Mart could get a presentation together. The meeting was finally held this week, when we were told that it was Wal-Mart who was putting in a distribution center. This planning had been going on for two years prior and was kept secret from the public until now. The council is trying to change the zoning quickly, by December 31st, to avoid an in-depth comprehensive study. As of January 1st, this study will take much longer and be much more expensive for Wal-Mart and possibly stop them from building due to environmental issues, land use rules and traffic concerns. Now this area is pristine and rural with an abundance of wildlife and a very clean natural lake that offers plenty of recreation. If this distribution center is built, the size, noise, diesel fumes from over 1,000 trucks per day and lighting will ruin everything about this area. This property is located on a small two lane dead end road with access to U.S. 17 which is also two lanes. All trucks will have to travel either north or south for 15 miles or more to reach any four lane highway. On this road, U.S. 17, these trucks will have to pass through many small towns and schools on or near the road. We currently have a lawyer working for us and want to stop Wal-Mart from ramming this distribution center down our throats. We are a small community with very limited resources battling the giant Wal-Mart and our own Planning and Zoning Commission who are looking only at Wal-Mart dollars.”
For local contacts fighting this distribution center, contact [email protected] Wal-Mart has already lost some D.C. battles in Florida. Search Newsflash by “Distribution Center” for similar stories.