Following are 10 reasons to oppose Wal-mart's proposal to move from Abingdon to the corner of Emmorton and Plumtree Road in Bel Air, just 2 miles from downtown. Printable Document: 10reasonstosayNOtoWalmart (pdf)
1. Big Vacant Box: If Wal-mart moves to Plumtree Road, Bel Air, it will leave its existing space in Abingdon, with low likelihood of getting a buyer. A large abandoned building is not good for Harford County.
Fact: Square footage of empty abandoned Wal-marts in US: 26 million square feet and counting.
Source: Al Norman, "Wal-Mart Has 356 "Dark Stores" Available for Sale or Lease," Sprawl-Busters.com, March 5, 2005.
2. Big Box vs. Local Business: The site Wal-mart wants is close to Festival Shopping Center and within 3 miles from downtown Bel Air. The stores in this shopping center include small businesses such as Bicycle Connection, Amazing Glaze, and the Lampe Shoppe, as well larger retailers such as Payless Shoes and Children's Place. And of course Klein's Shoprite, a grocery store. Downtown Bel Air features a number of independent, locally owned businesses such as Bows & Britches, Bel Air Bakery, as well as Farmer's Market twice a week. What will be the impact of a 24-7 "Super Wal-mart" be on these small and medium sized businesses, and the good jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities that they create in Harford County?
County Executive David Craig stated that the business zone that Wal-mart wants to occupy is intended for "smaller type of retail we had hoped would complement the existing community shopping centers in the area." (The Aegis, August 1, 2012)
A long line of vacant storefronts along Main Street and Emmorton Road is not good for Harford County. Lost jobs and lower wages will result if Wal-mart is allowed to move so close to downtown Bel Air, the heart of Harford County.
3. Urban Planning Sense. Wal-mart can expand in its current location. County Executive David Craig said, "My administration is interested in working with Wal-mart to find a more amenable solution that will allow them to expand at their current Constant Friendship/Abingdon location." (The Dagger, July 31, 2012). Word on the street is that Wal-mart does not want to add groceries in its current location, because it is worried about competition from Wegman's, which did not exist in the Constant Friendship Shopping Complex at the time Wal-mart opened there circa 1988.
Wal-mart does not need a helping hand from Harford County. Our first priority should be to support local businesses and not to redraw Main Street, also known as Emmorton Road and Route 924, for the benefit of the largest corporation on the planet.
4. Traffic sense. Harford County and Maryland State Highway Administration have already paved way for Constant Friendship Shopping traffic. The new the new bridge over MD 924 opened nearly one year ago today.
As County Executive David Craig said, "I feel that it would in the long run be better for the county if Wal-mart were to re-invest in their Constant Friendship location. All too often, we are quick to abandon older facilities and communities in favor of new locations without looking at ways to revitalize what we already have. Now that the state has put the finishing touches on the new interchange at 24 and 924, the traffic situation in that area has improved greatly, and the current location is much better equipped to handle the volume of traffic that a store such as Wal-mart generates.
5. More traffic sense. It makes no sense to redirect the estimated 10,000 cars a day that come to Wal-mart to the residential area in the Plumtree Road neighbourhood. Near elementary, middle and high schools, fire department and the Festival Shopping Center, the area is already handling the limit of its capacity and becomes congested during peak hours. Will children still be able to walk or bike in the neighborhood? Will the fire department have clear access in time of need? Will commuters utilise side routes, school and church parking lots and other hitherto low-traffic areas?
6. Good neighborhoods. Wal-mart is open 24 hours per day. Planned for the Plumtree location is a "Super Wal-mart." Is a supersized big-box store suited to be in a quiet residential community? Or its current location in the Constant Friendship Shopping Plaza near the Interstate 95 exit?
7. Public Safety. Unlike regular Wal-mart, "Super Wal-mart" can also sell guns. On top of abandoned buildings, lost jobs, low wages, road rage heavy traffic and road rage, will we now have to worry about easy access to guns in the heart of Harford County? Harford County where we can walk or jog at night, and kids can to scho0l or the store without worrying about shootings, may soon be a fond memory.
8. Low Wages: Expansion of Wal-mart means lowering wages and increasing unemployment and increasing dependence on taxpayer-funded public assistance.
Source: Arindrajit Dube, "Impact of Wal-Mart Growth on Earnings throughout the Retail Sector in Urban and Rural Counties" [PDF File], UC Berkeley Labor Center, November 2005.
- Many thousands of Wal-mart workers are enrolled in public assistance, because the store does not pay a living wage
- WAL-MART Costs Taxpayers $1,557,000,000,00 to support its employees
Source: Good Jobs First, "Shopping For Subsidies: How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money To Finance Its Never-Ending Growth," May 2004.
9. Wal-mart is Anti-Union. Wal-mart does not respect worker's rights to organize and work for decent wages, legal working conditions and protection from discrimination. United For Respect, the organization of Wal-Mart Workers, is the closest thing to a union they have. They document cases of union-busting and unfair treatment of employees.
10. Walmart hurts our local economy. The website of the organization Making Change at Walmart provides state-by-state information on Walmart’s impact throughout the United States and tools for people to fight back against all the ways Walmart is pulling down our economy.
Now, please write to the County Council and urge them to say NO to Walmart's proposal to move to Bel Air.