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Decatur Opposes Walmart as South Atlanta Begs for One
(APN) DECATUR -- Good Growth Dekalb (GGD), a neighborhood group, has organized a series of Occupy Walmart protests scheduled for January 27, and February 03 and 10, 2012.
Many local residents are opposed to the proposed Walmart that will be located at Suburban Plaza in Decatur at the intersection of Medlock Road, Scott Boulevard, and North Decatur Road.
The first Occupy Walmart protest, held Friday, January 20, had over fifty attendees who showed up in spite of rain and cold weather.
Suburban Plaza, owned by Selig Enterprises and built in 1959, is already zoned for big box stores and only needed a parking variance for 3.91 parking spaces instead of the 5.5 spaces per one thousand.
A public hearing was held on Wednesday, December 14, 2011. On that day, Dekalb County granted the parking variance for the proposed redevelopment.
Traffic is already dangerous there, located on a dangerous six lane intersection.
The original plaza was 290,000 square feet. New plans would increase the shopping center to 324,614 square feet.
"The proposed Walmart store would be 149,000 square feet," Ann Mauney, director of Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition Atlanta chapter, told Atlanta Progressive News.
The present reporter was almost was hit by a car trying to get to the other side of the intersection while trying to photograph the protesters.
"Traffic is a nightmare and I had to wait over six minutes at 730am to take my daughter to the emergency room... We do not want a Walmart in our neighborhood, and I have sent Commissioner [Jeff] Rader and [Kathie] Gannon letters and studies showing how building a Walmart would adversely effect our community," Tarik Veysoglu, a Medlock resident, said.
"Thus far, no traffic study has been made on the impact of increased traffic at the six-way intersection of Medlock, Scott Blvd., and N. Decatur Roads. Pedestrians face serious danger crossing at the intersection," Veysoglu said.
"Small local retailers would be at increased risk of going out of business. In a Chicago study of a new Walmart, 82 of 306 small businesses went out of business within eighteen months. Walmart profits leave the community," a GGD press release stated.
The Walmart was approved even though "there were a hundred residents at the [December 14] hearing which were in opposition," Louise Runyon, a Medlock Community resident, said. About twenty-five citizens had lined up to speak.
"Although Walmart and Selig representatives spoke to the neighborhood associations, many were not aware of what was happening. Medlock Neighborhood Association (MNA) endorsed and signed an agreement with Walmart which is very upsetting. This is not an accurate representation of the residents," Runyon said.
"During a MNA meeting they agreed to support Walmart because they were offered 250,000 dollars," Veysoglu said.
"Even though the traffic variance was passed and MNA supports Walmart, that doesn't represent the voice of all residents so we are now asking for community support to raise money to fight this new Walmart. A majority of the funds will be used to hire an attorney to check out the legalities," Mauney said.
Although Walmart has had lots of opposition from many Decatur residents, not all communities in the Atlanta area feel the same.
There was a Walmart proposed just southwest of Downtown Atlanta, in the Vine City/English Avenue area, that is to be located in the abandoned location of an old Publix location which went out of business.
"There are no grocery stores or pharmacies at all within a five mile radius and the only place to purchase food are local Food Marts that sell junk food, which is unhealthy for those living in the community," Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, a community activist, told Atlanta Progressive News.
"The only grocery and pharmacy was Publix and now that it is gone we live in a food and pharmaceutical desert. There are no businesses in our neighborhood to go out of business. We were so excited when we heard that Walmart wanted to open a grocery and pharmacy, but now we have not heard a word and we are worried that we will have nothing," Sims-Alvarado said.
"This is unfair and racial as the location in Suburban Plaza has over fifteen grocery stores and pharmacies within the same five mile radius. Walmart and other food chains ignore large portions of the cities leaving them a food and pharmaceutical abyss," Sims-Alvarado said.
"Now that there has been no contact with Walmart the community is begging for a farmers' market, co-op, or food chain to set a home in the old Publix," Sims-Alvarado said.
"We have just as many residents as Decatur and are conveniently located near a MARTA. Why have we been forgotten and why don't we deserve a grocery? What is wrong with this picture?"
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