Monday, May 4, 2009

Walmart wars (no hyphen any more), an update …

   It’s become a cliché that the most notable American business that is doing well in the recession is the biggest one of all, which also happens to be the haven of the penny-pinched American:  Walmart (and here’s a note to all journalists and writers out there: the company no longer uses a hyphen in the name).  And so the Walmart wars continue, as local governments debate whether to allow the big retailer into their communities.
Wal-mart     Here are two current stories.  First, according to the Charlotte Observer, city advocates are trying to encourage Walmart to build along Independence Boulevard, the big thoroughfare that leads southeast out of the great banking and trade city that in part symbolizes the recent financial boom (and bust, in part); the route today holds too many empty storefronts.  A big complication – ironically, for opponents who charge that Walmart is the embodiment of sprawl – is that the city’s zoning rules limit construction near the highway, in order to allow for possible future expansion of the route as sprawl continues outward in the future.  Will expectations of sprawl stop this Walmart?      
    A more traditional battle is playing out in Orange County, Va., where the retailer would like to build a store near the locations of the famous battles of the Wilderness (it’s not really wilderness anymore, but it is still largely rural) and Chancellorsville.  A number of county supervisors appear to favor the plan as a way of stimulating economic development, while a number of groups, including the Civil War Preservation Trust, oppose it.  Recently, both the wealthy landowning King family and famous nearby resident Robert Duvall (who has often been associated with Republican causes) have expressed skepticism of a quick decision to approve the store plan.  But they, of course, do not need to shop at Walmart …

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