Good Growth DeKalb, the fledgling local group , has raised more than $4,000 in about two weeks to begin investigating a possible legal fight against the international retailer, the group said Thursday.
The money was raised through a combination of grassroots efforts, including door-to-door, phone and Facebook solicitations to mail and PayPal donations that came from donors locally, in other parts of DeKalb County and even Gwinnett County, said Ann Mauney, one of the group's organizers. The group has also been meeting each week at .
"It's many, many people giving small donations," she said. "Now, it's kind of self-generating. But each of these meetings brings new people."
The money will be used to pay attorneys to investigate whether a legal case can be made against the construction of Walmart in Suburban Plaza on Scott Boulevard in North Decatur. As it stands, Selig Enterprises, which owns the shopping center, and Walmart have the go-ahead to build and were allowing them to proceed with construction. Selig sees the retailer's presence as the spark to a total redevelopment of the aging shopping center that will likely see most of its present tenants leave due to leasing rate increases.
Though Good Growth DeKalb has not announced which attorneys they plan to hire, members of the group consulted two over the Christmas holiday with expertise in land use and environmental law, particularly water runoff. Just two weeks ago, at a Jan. 17 meeting, the group had only $675 in its bank account. The $4,000 will essentially be used entirely to determine whether the group can move forward with a lawsuit. If it's determined that a case is there to be fought, the group estimated that as much as $10,000 to $15,000 more will be needed to see the issue through, organizers have said.
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. The group has been for two weeks and has planned another protest for tomorrow.
The group is trying to get the word out as quickly as possible, especially because so many of its members found out about the development months after it was announced, Mauney said.
"We believe that Selig and Walmart wanted the community to think it was a done deal," she said.