Big box retailing is not headed into the 3rd Mall-ennium in the town of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. As reported in earlier “newsflash” stories, Menomonee Falls has given thumbs down to Home Depot not once, but twice. The Village Board also rejected a Menard’s store a couple of years ago. The Village President, Joe Greco, who has been the target in the past of a phone campaign directed by Home Depot, now thinks his community has had its fill of big box stores — and he plans to do something about it. After all, the community has paid its dues to superstores: there is a Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s and Big K store already in the village, and residents are saturated with boxes. “The people don’t want it,” Greco told the Journal Sentinel newspaper. “We’ve seen it with Menards; we’ve seen it with the Home Depots. I want to be able to provide neighborhood commercial services, but I don’t believe we want to have (any more) businesses that provide regional services. I think we’ve done our fair share.” Greco said residents have raised a “whole myriad of concerns” about big stores, including traffic impacts, storm water runoff, and other community development issues. “The message has come through from the community that people don’t want ‘big box’,” Greco said. “I know that other communities have done it.” In response, Greco is thinking outside of the box, and has proposed amending Menomonee Falls’ zoning ordinance to limit the square footage of commercial buildings. The topic comes up for a hearing tonight in the village, and a further public hearing on the proposed ordinance is expected. “I think it’s time to stop,” said President Greco.
Communities from Florida to California have put limits on the size of big retailers, but here’s another suggestion from Sprawl-Busters: Limit the size of building permits in your town to no more than 15% above the average gross leasable area of the average retail commercial building permits issued in town over the past four or five years. This “incremental” cap approach 1) guarantees orderly development 2) adapts the scale of future development to the scale of existing development, allowing a community to grow — but not be overwhelmed by — new retail projects. For more information on the “incremental growth” ordinance, contact [email protected]