A local citizens group is doubling their efforts to educate and organize the public to stop the proposed Walmart at 924/Plumtree. Citing traffic, safety, environmental and other issues, the group, Bel Air South Community Foundation wants people to know that this site is not suitable for Walmart, or any big box store, and there are still things we as citizens can do to stop Walmart.
The project has already been opposed by the Abingdon Community Council and Harford County Executive David Craig has gone on record that he is against the site for Walmart, but the zip code where the store actually resides is not in Abingdon and is not currently represented by any Council appointed by Harford County. Citizens from these homes that are directly affected the most by the project have formed the Bel Air South Community Foundation. For the past 16 months they have been gathering information, circulating petitions, attending meetings and meeting with both county officials, and other businesses in the area.
BASCF has recently launched a new website, No Bel Air Walmart at www.nobelairwalmart.org, where they have posted the concerns about the proposed building site, have an online petition, sample letters you can send to representatives and updates on what the latest news is and what citizens can do next. BASCF has hundreds of signatures from petitions and has a mailing list to disperse information as well.
BASCF is reinvigorating their volunteer effort on a local level and has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday September 12 at 630PM at the Abingdon Library in the conference room. They are looking for volunteer coordinators from each neighborhood in BelAir South. This can be someone willing to get the word out in their area on updates, ensure neighbors who do not use email/Facebook/Twitter are kept current, and to dispel rumors that it is a done deal. It is still going to be difficult but it IS possible to stop this planned store. Neighborhoods around the country have been successful in stopping Walmart building in residential neighborhoods and we can too.
They are also looking for people to come to the Tuesday September 11th County Council meeting @ 7:30pm and speak on an issue that is important to you concerning WalMart. They believe the more people who speak on an issue near and dear to them, the more impact will be felt and more notice taken. They would like to pack the 191 person capacity County Council chamber with as many people as can come. Usually if you'd like to register to speak, they ask for you to sign up @ 6:30pm, but last week the signup sheet wasn't out until after 7pm.
If you visit the Constant Friendship Walmart, or open your mailbox to Walmart flyers announcing a new store and new jobs, you would think the move to the proposed site at 924 and Plumtree was a done deal. Even a response to a citizen letter from WalMart gave the impression that the plans had been submitted and approved. Nothing is further than the truth! Per Shane Grimm at Zoning and Planning, "I can assure you that Bowman Consultinghas not submitted a site plan or Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) for review through the Development Advisory Committee (DAC) as of this afternoon. They have only submitted a Forest Stand Delineation (FSD) for review at this time, which is required prior to the submission of a site plan and TIA through DAC. The FSD has not been approved at this time. All DAC submission are posted on our website after they are received."
This is just Walmart's way of trying to make citizens think it's a done deal, that there is nothing you can do, and why they think it's good for the community. As one citizen's letter to the editor stated, "There are dozens of stores in Festival and the local area that Walmart will compete directly with including: Shop Rite, Rite-Aid, Marshalls, Mr. Tire, NTB, Pay-less shoes, Eye Fit Vision to mention a few. Will they survive or will we grow accustomed to vacant store fronts? As we sit in traffic snarled by road construction, we will have ample time to contemplate the cost of cheap Walmart groceries."
"If some community, for whatever reason, doesn't want us in there, we aren't interested in going in and creating a fuss." said the late Sam Walton. Or, as one company VP stated, "We have so many opportunities for building in communities that want WalMarts, it would be foolish of us to pursue construction in communities that don't want us."
Other communities all around the US have stopped Walmart. We CAN be one of them. Help show Walmart they are not welcome at this location.
Bel Air South Community Foundation's website
(if the site does not work, try again as GoDaddy is experiencing some problems as of the publication of this blog.
Bel Air South Community Foundation's Facebook page
Bel Air South Community Foundation's Facebook group