Group opposing Wal-Mart looking for support

By Laura Geller - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

POWHATAN, VA (WWBT) - Will Wal-Mart be good for Powhatan? For one group of residents sounding off, the answer is clear. They say the big box chain will ruin what they love about their small community.

Wal-Mart made its intentions clear of opening a store along Route 60, when it filed rezoning papers just over a week ago.

The group organizing tonight's meeting has compiled a long list of "cons" to try and spread the message, "Wal-mart is not smart growth" for a rural county like Powhatan. "It takes a village to stay a village," that's the call to action Powhatan residents are using to gain support against Wal-Mart.

Debbie Markel is a local business owner and one of the loudest voices of opposition. This meeting is her chance to get more signatures for the anti-Wal-Mart petition.

"Once you have one big box store come to a community, other big box stores follow. It just completely changes the personality of a community," she said.

Wal-Mart wants to open a store on a 53-acre plot near the Luck Stone plant on Route sixty. While some tout the benefit of a possible boost in tax revenue, Markel says the competition will kill small businesses.

There are those who say a new Wal-Mart would be great for Powhatan County. They say in tough economic times, the discount giant's prices could help struggling families and a new store would bring some much needed jobs inside county lines.

"For every job that Wal-Mart creates, you're going to lose ten of the local jobs in Powhatan," said resident Travis Ryan.

He wonders if the county's fate is sealed, especially when he considers the the recent examples in Orange County and Ashland. In those two cases, citizens  fought Wal-Mart and lost.

County leaders tell us nothing is set in stone just yet. The rezoning process alone requires at least two public hearings before the board of supervisors can vote.

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