Blacksburg's big-box victoryThat last little ditty will, I'm sure, give the retail development people at Wal-Mart and Kmart and Best Buy and Kohl's a bit of a chuckle. The law has tilted in favor of developers (meaning big box retailers)? To them, that news warrants a big ... whatever.
he Virginia Supreme Court last week ruled that the developers of Blacksburg's First & Main project must ask town council for special permission to build a big-box store. The decision was a victory for the council and for residents opposed to a possible large retailer next to Margaret Beeks Elementary School.
More important, it was a victory for localities throughout the commonwealth. Local officials now can work with developers without ceding control over what goes up within their borders.
[A]ll Virginia localities now can better negotiate with developers. Officials need not worry if they have thought of every contingency when they approve a zoning request and accept proffers. If a developer changes his proposal, they can act.
Virginia law long has tilted in favor of developers. This decision will help ensure profits do not trump the community good as long as elected officials are vigilant. [link]
The reality of it is that there is a host of cities and towns in the commonwealth that have never allowed a big box in their midst. And never will. Want to know the biggest reason for their blocking retail growth? Quite often those making the decisions - the town "fathers" - are merchants themselves. The owner of Uncle Ernie's Trading Barn is also a councilor. They see Wal-Mart as a competitor. And they have the power to prevent that major competition from coming to town out of self-preservation. They therefore exercise that power.
The folks at America's big boxes know this and accept it as a part of doing business.
So the Virginia Supreme Court has allowed town "fathers" to block Wal-Mart from building in town. Just another (minor) hurdle. One of many.
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Ever wonder why so many Wal-Marts are built out by the interstate? Besides the fact that it works ... see above.