Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Issues with Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart in Ellington? It may be sooner than you think.

Journal Inquirer
February 6, 2007

Wal-Mart representatives have been reviewing the parcel adjacent to Country Pure Foods on Route 83 as a site for a new store. While Wal-Mart might bring some tax revenue to Ellington, one needs to take a closer look at this potential store and ask town officials to do the same. If it was all good, would Vernon and Stafford officials so strongly have fought off Wal-Mart?

A few questions to ask local officials:

* What are the true economic benefits of having a Wal-Mart in town? Will there be additional costs such as road reconstruction/safety/police required? How has tax revenue from the new Big Y helped Ellington? How does the proposed revenue from a Wal-Mart compare to that of Big Y?

* With all work the town's design review board did to establish architectural guidelines and to make McDonald's a more pleasing structure in Ellington, what is the guarantee that Wal-Mart will not construct its typical big gray box?

* How will town officials guarantee that Wal-Mart does not present Ellington with the various offenses it presented other communities and for which the Connecticut attorney general took action? These offenses include environmental violations at 22 Wal-Mart stores in Connecticut relating to storm water and other waste-management issues. The offenses also included child-labor law violations and pricing issues in which discrepancies existed between posted and checkout prices.

While the town may have no real say in those businesses that locate on private properties, other than assuring they meet local requirements, this might not be enough to prevent undesired development. Glastonbury has long had an agreement with local farmers to give them notice of a potential land sale to allow the town to potentially purchase the property. This is something Ellington needs to pursue, whether to preserve open space or to monitor businesses locating in town.

Approving the $250,000 annual allotment for the potential preservation of open space, as proposed by Selectman Leo Miller, and reserving CRRA settlement money for open-space preservation can help prevent undesired development or overdevelopment in Ellington.

Jim Maitland