Anne Arundel County, Maryland, only has five Wal-Marts, but the mega-retailer wants to build a 143,000 s.f. store roughly 6 miles from an existing store. That thought has stimulated a new citizen’s group, Crofton First, to try to block the latest big box assault. Wal-Mart has applied to build a store on 20 acres of land, and their site plan is currently under review. A spokesman for Wal-Mart told The Capital newspaper that the proposed store was “on the small side,” even though its nearly the size of 3 football fields under one roof. There are already two Wal-Mart stores in nearby Glen Burnie, one in Hanoverand one in Russett, plus a Sam’s Club in Parole. Wal-Mart told the newspaper that the latest store will not take sales from the Wal-Mart in Bowie, Maryland, just 6 miles to the south. “We are a retailer,” the Wal-Mart spokesperson said. “We are in the business of profit. One (store) has nothing to do with the other. It’s different communities and different needs.” But Sam Walton was more transparent. “We became our own competition,” he wrote in his autobiography, explaining the company’s deliberate saturation strategy. Local officials in Crofon were caught by surprise by the announcement. Torrey Jacobsen Jr., president of the Greater Crofton Council, told The Capital he was upset the county didn’t tell the community about the Wal-Mart. “We want good, smart-growth development,” Mr. Jacobsen said. “We don’t want superbox stores like that on Route 3.” Environmentalists worry that the store is near the Little Patuxent river and wetlands, and puts the area at unnecessary risk. “That particular zone is incredibly silted up,” a member of Patuxent Riverkeepers said. “A commercial development like Wal-Mart is hugely invasive. We need more parks and open space.” County Council Chairman Ed Reilly, who is from Crofton, was disappointed to hear about the Wal-Mart. “It’s a destination facility that will draw more cars to the neighborhood,” he told The Capital.
Wal-Mart may have hoped that the whole affair would go through unnoticed, but now residents vow that the retailer will have a fight on its hands. “I honestly don’t think it was anyone’s intention not to notify (the community),” the Wal-Mart spokesperson admitted. For local contacts in Crofton, contact [email protected]