A group of local residents fighting the construction of a Walmart Supercenter inside North Decatur's Suburban Plaza is consulting attorneys about a possible legal fight against the international retailer and is raising money to pay for it.
About 20 residents showed up to a Tuesday evening meeting of the newly named Good Growth DeKalb at to discuss their continued fight against Walmart and Selig Enterprises, the local development company that owns the beleaguered shopping center where it will be built.
Over the holidays, members of the group met with two sets of attorneys to get an idea of what it would cost, first, to find out if there is a legal angle to prevent Walmart from building and, second, what it would cost to pay for an attorney to see the issue through.
The group now has a goal to raise $4,000 by Feb. 1 to hire an attorney to see if there is a legal way to fight Selig and Walmart. The attorneys they've consulted have expertise in land use and environmental law, particularly water runoff, said Ann Mauney, a group member.
"[The attorneys] said, 'You go down seven avenues and maybe you find one thing you can fight,'" she told the group. "We have got to commit ourselves if this is something that people want to do. ... It is now or never."
Good Growth DeKalb currently has a bank account with $675 in it, said Staci Dixon, a group member who ran the meeting.
Group members plan to canvas neighborhoods asking for donations to meet the initial exploratory fee. The actual legal fight, however, could cost between $10,000 and $15,000, members said. The group also plans to stage at least one protest this Friday in front of Suburban Plaza from 4:30pm - 5:30pm and also hopes to organize a larger town hall meeting that would include a hired attorney and speakers who have successfully fought other Walmart store developments.
Fliers and literature the group distributed to members (which will also be given to the public) focused on criticisms of the retailer that included traffic congestion in the Scott Boulevard/North Decatur Road area, the potential loss of local businesses and the local jobs that would go with them and the addition of mostly low-wage jobs that Walmart would provide instead.
"There are some very unlikely scenarios in this country where people have changed the picture with Walmart," Mauney said. "We’ve got to decide if we’re really going to make an effort."
The group will meet again next Tuesday at 7pm.