CITIZEN-TIMES.com Wal-Mart drops West Asheville store plans
CITIZEN-TIMES.com: Wal-Mart drops West Asheville store planshttp://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060412/NEWS01/60411059/1...Page 1 of 24/12/2006CITIZEN-TIMES.comWal-Mart drops West Asheville store plansBy Mark BarrettMBARRETT@CITIZEN-TIMES.COMApril 12, 2006 6:00 amASHEVILLE — Wal-Mart Stores dropped its proposal for a West Asheville Supercenter store Tuesdayjust hours before a scheduled City Council vote that may well have gone against it.The project would have needed at least six out of seven votes from council, but it wasn’t clear Tuesdaywhether even a simple majority would have voted to approve a store next to Lowe’s on Smoky ParkHighway.“We’re disappointed. We wanted to serve our customers in West Asheville,” Wal-Mart spokeswomanTara Stewart said. The company “will continue to look for” another Asheville-area location but will nolonger consider the Smoky Park Highway site, she said.Stewart would not say why Wal-Mart made its 11th-hour decision. Two council members said it appearsthe company guessed it would lose a council vote.The decision, conveyed to city government late Tuesday morning, averted what had promised to belively debate before council. The city had set up special procedures to handle what was expected to be alarge crowd.Opponents had raised concerns about impact on businesses and neighborhood residents, particularlyresidents of 50 or so units in a mobile home park that would have been leveled to make way for the184,000-square-foot store.Wal-Mart had said the store would provide jobs, and some West Asheville residents said they lookedforward to being able to shop there.“I really feel sorry for the trailer park residents who were going to be paid $7,500 apiece to defray theirmoving expenses,” said store proponent and city resident Tim Peck, referring to relocation assistanceWal-Mart offered. “Now they’re going to still have to move out when the next developer purchases thatproperty, and they’re going to get nothing.”Lotte Meyerson, who was involved with efforts opposing the store, said, “The public pressure we’vehelped mount and from independent sources probably made (Wal-Mart) realize they’re not verywelcome here.”“We’re going to think about what else we can do to make sure they don’t locate elsewhere in thisimmediate area, so we’re not through with our work,” she said.The city Planning and Zoning Commission and Planning Department had recommended approval of theproposal, but a protest petition filed late last week may have turned the tide against it.