“We’re not just opposing a Wal-Mart, we’re in the process of preventing the destruction of the community.” So says the former Mayor of Mt. Airy, Maryland, Linda Boyer. Wal-Mart wants to build an 85,000 s.f. store on 14 acres of land just behind a Safeway grocery store, but a new group called Us Against the Wal has formed to try and let the air out of the Mt. Airy proposal. “We want to make it so Mt.Airy is a poison apple for Wal-Mart,” explains organizer Catherine Ditman, a local accountant. “I like convenience as much as they next guy,” Ditman told reporters, “but at what cost?” Mt. Airy Mayor Gerald Johnson, and town council President Delaine Hobbs have both said that Wal-Mart will hurt local businesses. “I’d much rather they build it somewhere else,” Hobbs said. Mt. Airy is already saturated with Wal-Marts in nearby communities. “Once Wal-Mart comes in,” says resident Roberta Hermann, “they drive out the small businesses that have been here for years. They figure they can force us to shop in their store. I resent the Big Brother attitude.” Although some local residents have insisted that towns cannot stop big box stores from locating on commercial land, citizens have won recent battles in places like Henniker, NH and North Elba, NY on land that was zoned commercially. Us Against the Wal has been growing in size, and plans to reveal how little substance there is in Wal-Mart’s airy proposal.
Us Against the Wal is accepting contributions and offers of assistance. For further information, contact Catherine Ditman at Box 329, Mt. Airy, Maryland 21771, or look for their link to this website on the “add a link” page of Sprawl-Busters.