Friday, June 16, 2006

Wal-Mart Clarification

By Tim Peck
Mountain Guardian
June 16, 2006

Thomas N Rightmyer wrote:

>> The proposal is for a 204K building (larger if I remember
>> correctly that the West Asheville proposal) with 917 parking spaces.
>> Variances asked for included reducing parking space size from 10 to 9
>> 1/2 feet wide and from 20 to 18 ft long. Similar variances were granted
>> for an Ingles' on Long Shoals, reducing the number of spaces by about
>> 10%, reducing the number of loading docks to 6 from the 21 required by
>> county code.

I just want to clarify one point. The Buncombe County Board of Adjustment did not approve the Wal-Mart project. That was not their charge. Wal-Mart has the right to purchase property and build wherever they damn well please as long as they are in conformance with local regulations.

This project is in conformance. The property is already zoned EMP (employment). A favorable traffic impact analysis was performed. The additional conditions imposed were already in the plan. A petition favoring the development was signed by 2,130 people who shop at other Wal-Marts. 380 to 450 jobs will be created.

As Thomas has pointed out above, the only thing Wal-Mart needed was a zoning variance for the width and length of parking spaces (resulting in a smaller parking lot) and a reduction in government-mandated loading docks. This demonstrates the efficiency of the free market over against cookie-cutter government. Wal-Mart does not need more than 6 loading docks to conduct their operations.

Key Point Missed In The Coverage: The public comment and anti-Wal-Mart activism suggesting that the Board should not allow Wal-Mart to build this store was entirely misguided. Had the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment not approved these minor variances, Wal-Mart would have still gone forward with the project on schedule. The BOA was in no position to approve or disapprove of this development! It was only in the position of approving or disapproving the size of a parking space.

The first Wal-Mart in East Asheville was met with massive protests, a 9-hour public hearing, and thousands in vandalism damage. The Wal-Mart proposed for West Asheville was protested by organized groups as well. In those cases, the city held the trump card. Wal-Mart could not go forward with the projects without critical zoning variances. In the case of the Airport Road project Wal-mart held the trump card: private property rights.