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Anti-Walmart Group: We've Raised $4K for Legal Fight

In two weeks, Good Growth DeKalb managed to raise more than $4,000 to hire lawyers to investigate a case against Selig Enterprises and Walmart, which seeks to build a Supercenter in Suburban Plaza.

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.

Good Growth DeKalb can be reached on Facebook here and through its Yahoo! group here.

Jennifer C. February 07, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Why? Elaborate and be specific.
Jennifer C. February 07, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Hi Sally, I believe in civic involvement and responsibilty. We are not trying to tell private developers what to do. We are -- GASP -- trying to look out for our best interests. My property taxes went up 26% this year along with the rest of DeKalb and you think that I don't have a voice in a commercial development less than a mile from me? And why won't you drive to Memorial Drive to shop at Walmart? I haven't heard of any incidents at that location and from what I hear, and from what another Walmart supporter on the string above assesrted, it has only brought good growth to that area.
Jennifer C. February 07, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Based on a friend's experience with running such blogs, most of the posts in defense of Walmart and Selig are from people who are being paid by Walmart and/or Selig. So, for the general public reading this site, please know that.
Steve February 07, 2012 at 10:11 PM
That is insulting to me and others. I'd be interested in your or your friend's evidence.
Jennifer C. February 07, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Sure. What's your name and your email address to that I can send you the evidence? It's too much to post here. Also, a question for Jonathan Cribbs -- how come Steve and David D's names appear in black on this string but all the other names appear in blue?
Jennifer C. February 07, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Steve, Please post all your evidence that all the legalities have been met. This might save the group a lot of effort. If you have all the paperwork documenting this, we will be happy to pay copy fees so that we can review. Thanks!
Steve February 07, 2012 at 10:42 PM
I have no need to post the information; the County could supply what you need. In summary, here are the legalities: * The property was and is zoned properly for the proposed development. As I said before, absent a need for a parking variance, construction could already be underway.. * The required parking variance was properly advertised and approved. The next step is for plans to be drawn and approved, which will be done on the basis of building codes and they are non-debatable. Economic and/or moral and/or traffic arguments are not part of the discussion. They might have come into play had a rezoning been required, but that was not the case. I am interested on what basis your group proposes to challenge the development .
Jonathan Cribbs February 07, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Hi, Jennifer. If their names are appearing in black, it's because – I'm assuming – you've clicked the hyperlink to their profiles. Similar to how links on Google switch from blue to purple if you've clicked them before. I have not clicked on Steve or David D's names, so they appear in blue to me.
Jonathan Cribbs February 07, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Wow. Things are getting heated on this board. Here's a thought: Everyone find their happy place, and tell me about meeting your significant other. It'll be a nice refresher, I think (unless you're stuck in a terrible marriage or relationship, and, in that case, I apologize for irritating you). C'mon. Do a guy a favor. Here's the link: http://northdruidhills.patch.com/articles/how-did-you-meet-your-significant-other
Jennifer C. February 07, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Deanne, Can you specifically list all the ways in which the Avondale Walmart has advantaged that area? Please be very specific so that I can thoughtfully reply. I do not have any firsthand experience with that Walmart, but I have numerous friends and coworkers who live near it who tell me that the litter is awful and that they would never shop there at night. Also, another one of your fellow pro-Walmart, yes, pro-Walmart, supporters on this string says that she would never go there and that you should pack heat if you do. On a broader note, the tone and tenor of all your posts mostly sadden me. In my opinion, you have given up on a better DeKalb and a more aspirational Suburban Plaza. No one, and certainly most of all Victoria whom you've attacked (I think that is fair to say), in Good Growth DeKalb has gotten "caught up in the whirlwind" of anything. I think you'd be surprised at what a thoughtful, honest, and fair-minded group of people actually comprise it. I'd ask you to maybe attend one of our meetings and help us shape our vision and plan!
Steve February 07, 2012 at 10:50 PM
I have no intention of providing that information. If you have evidence, post it here. As I said, I am insulted by your insinuation and consider it a personal attack on my integrity. For the record: * I have not been and am not paid by WalMart, Selig, or anyone else involved with this issue and I have not been nor am I now an employee, or related or associated with an employee of either. * I am not an attorney And, BTW, I'm looking at my names and David's and they're both in a nice dark blue color - you're looking for things that aren't there.
David S February 07, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Seriously, Jennifer? The only people who could possibly disagree with you must be paid by the big bad developer? Don't flatter yourself. There is good, thoughtful discussion on both sides of this issue, but its clear that GGD is simply an anti-Walmart group. Where's their alternate plan, like the group in Athens? Their Pay Pal account is simply "nowalmart." Oh, and the names appear in black after you've clicked on someone's profile. So we know who you've been looking at.
Victoria Webb February 07, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Jennifer has brought up some points that have not yet been answered. The legality of those promises made to all the neighborhoods by Walmart/Selig. GGD does want to see any concessions in writing and signed by appropriate county and development officials. Of course an attorney will be asking for the same information. David, we have not yet hired an urban designer to come up with an 'alternate' plan for SB. And that would be a positive, so there's one thing we agree on. :) Athens is at much greater risk - it's a huge development that will reroute traffic and the city deserves better design than the developer has offered. If you would review the problems and solutions that the Athens group is offering, you might find yourself agreeing with the protests. As for a break in our heated discussion, yes I think Jonathan has a point. But democracy is messy and that's what we're engaged in.
MrMatt February 07, 2012 at 11:20 PM
I hope the area ends up with something positive. I don't love Walmart, but i don't hate them either. They are not inherently evil. They are just hugely successful at operating in the global economy, and were one of the first to do it so well. Source cheaply, operate efficiently, continue to grow. Maybe if consumers hated WM so much they would stop shopping there, but it seems that hasn't happened (though i'd say WM's growth in the US is waning due to saturation and competitors catching up - most likely NOT because idealogues just can't stand them). Also, be careful about calling academic study findings 'facts' - as has been suggested in this discussion. Studies look at a set of variables - they are not exhaustive. Some of the ones linked above discuss how WM hurts jobs. If you read closely, you'll see they almost always indicate RETAIL jobs. But RETAIL excludes the food and service businesses that often are part of 'revitalization' that occurs. Look at Chamblee which now has at least 2 restaurants, a bank and 2 hair salons in the plaza. Not counted as 'retail'. And if WM hurts Publix and Kroger (two very large companies themselves), does that mean we should discourage Whole Foods as well. I know plenty of people who now do some, to 1/2 to nearly all their grocery shopping there. I guess that's okay, because it's not WM getting the business. Are we picking winners and losers now...oh, that seems so very familiar for some reason.
David D February 08, 2012 at 12:33 AM
You don't show your name either, lady. You don't do GGD any good with your silly accusations that aren't true. Its obvious that you suffer from serious delusions that anyone who disagrees with you must be wrong. I don't post my full name because I got a taste of the lack of manners from some of the anti-Walmart folks at the zoning variance meeting. I'd rather keep someone like you at arms length, Ms. C-no last name.
David D February 08, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Ms. C no last name, You comment gives me the creeps. Please know that this blog is the face of GGD and your comment made it ugly. I'm not pro-WalMart at all. But I don't like tailiban-like actions when some people become obsessed because they get a bit of publicity.
Ms. February 08, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Jennifer- I can't speak for Deanne, because I don't know her personally, but after reading all her posts, if all you can infer is that she has "given up," then you're either not paying attention, or simply being belligerent, maybe both. She's one of the more informed posters on this topic, and I wouldn't blame her a bit for not taking you up on your offer. Who would? You all seem like an awfully angry bunch, who go for the jugular of anyone that dares to challenge your stance. I'm still waiting to hear what GGD is telling the owners of the car lots on Scott about what to put on their property. It's total abandoned blight and I'd probably get behind some movement on that.
Ms. February 08, 2012 at 02:39 AM
I'm not affiliated with Selig or Walmart in any way. I may not agree with Victoria, but at she has figures and actual points, you're just heading straight for the personal insults. You're one of the worst representatives I have seen from your group thus far. Well, other than that guy who shouted at the pastor. A bunch of real class acts.
Victoria Webb February 08, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I guess I'd much rather have a Bongs-R-Us shop than a Walmart, so HHS you got a laugh and a nod from me. We have Emory right down the road, whose demographic seems perfect for the kind of shops in the Oakhurst Village Business district or the Eastside near Grant Park. Why couldn't a developer lure them into SP? Cities like San Francisco offer pedestrian friendly shopping experiences; each neighborhood can be reached by public transit or by foot. Dekalbs' outlying environs could emulate that model by reshaping their existing structure. Decatur itself has successfully developed their own downtown area. Stores like Walmart are not designed for walkers nor are they visually stimulating enough for people to want to walk by or stop and congregate - the objective of smart urban planning. That's the problem that the Athens design team is showcasing on their site. And that has more to do with Selig's proposal and Walmart as a corporate model than anything else. The GGD wants a better retailer for the community. We don't want to return to 1960's suburban life. There is the possibility that small boutiques and hip restaurants could flourish in the Plaza, just as they do in Oakhurst or even in Avondale, where in just a decade the entire dynamic has changed. But another 5 years to a decade might be required to build a sustainable model at SP. I continue to have hope that the neighborhoods around it will flourish, but I don't think a Walmart can possibly help them.
K.C.S. February 08, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I live less than a mile from the site and look forward to shopping at a redeveloped SP. I don't work for, or have any warm-fuzzy feelings for WM or Selig. ...So, for the general public reading this site, please know that.
Stephen Decatur February 08, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Opponents to this development are operating as though they have a problem with Walmart and Selig but, in reading this thread, it's clear their real problems are with: 1. Our capitalist economy. Like it or not, we have an economy based on survival of the fittest. That means that, when measuring business acumen, we reward those who've most effectively leveraged and/or manipulated the system for maximum returns to themselves and their stakeholders. That's not about right or wrong. That's just how it works. 2. DeKalb County land use policy and regulations. Zoning is the DNA of what gets built and DeKalb zoning is a conventional, separated-use system that favors big boxes. Opponents may be asking for one thing, but the law is dictating something else. GGD may have legitimate arguments in opposition to either of these two realities. I don't anticipate they could make all that much headway on the first but the second could yield results. But either way, the current discourse is misdirected and irrelevant.
Victoria Webb February 08, 2012 at 04:33 PM
We have no problem with capitalism, but we don't endorse urban sprawl. And Dekalb's ordinances and zoning do need to be revised and strengthened for projects like this one. During the 2005 Avondale Walmart fight, the mixed-use promise was never actualized. The DeKalb Commissioner was told by Wal-Mart that they would allow a local school to park on their lot. However, the school board was told that Wal-Mart had "liability" issues with allowing them to park on the property. This is why GGD would like to see a contingency plan and ideally have the proposal scrapped - if these types of concessions are not legally agreed upon. There is speculation now that if a Walmart goes in at SP, the Memorial Drive store will be closed. This is Walmart's strategy; they abandon stores once they've pushed all local businesses out, in order to force loyal customers to drive further away. An outdated and environmentally unsustainable model for retail. Walmart's goal is not to keep all stores open within 4 miles of each other, it's a strategy to kill competition. If you believe that Walmart is succeeding in an increasingly 'small is smarter' and online shopping world, I suggest you read Forbes magazine's article about the company's low shareholder value since 2000. Other companies are growing faster by providing more value for their customers with better quality and a wider price range. http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2010/10/13/the-wal-mart-disease/
Steve February 08, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Which local businesses has WM pushed out on Memorial Drive?
Rick February 08, 2012 at 06:37 PM
@Clifton, I think you are missing the point. If Walmart moves in, Ace Hardware will go out of business as will many other businesses. Instead of great customer service, you will get some surly uninformed clock-punchers.
prettyflower February 08, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I have seen the folks at Ace quoted as saying that they do not fear Wal-Mart. So it's showing very little faith in Ace or in the strength of your community to assume they will definitely be out of business. This is why I can't get on board with GGD despite my personal reservations about Wal-Mart. Too much doom and gloom and not a shred of realism.
Sally February 09, 2012 at 12:09 PM
This area has been zoned for this development for decades. If you weren't aware of that until now, I suggest you weren't doing your duty as an owner of property in the area. Also, my taxes went up too? But what I realize is that my taxes are a small part of what runs Dekalb County. One reason Dekalb County is having such a hard time right now is because they don't have the business base that other surrounding counties have to support them. If they don't build that up your taxes are going to go up even more my friend.
Sally February 09, 2012 at 12:11 PM
And, good to know that Walmart has brought redevelopment around it on Memorial Drive. Another good example to point to. Thanks for sharing.
Sally February 09, 2012 at 12:13 PM
And now, according to one of your friends here, we can add Walmart on Memorial Drive to the list of locations that have contributed to redevelopment in an area.
reelmind February 10, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I understand that the International Farmers' Market next to Chamblee Walmart closed. This seems to be the history of food retailers when Walmart comes into an area. Again, I would hate to think my only choice will be Walmart once all over businesses are gone.
David D February 10, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Really - that International Farmers Market had its ups and downs before Walmart. There is a significant amount of competition in that area for international foods and that WalMart is nowhere near major competition to the old International Farmers Market. If you really miss shopping there, you might just wiz over to the one on Buford Highway - it's not at all far. My point is, of course, that businesses in the area already face steep competition from other similar businesses - which WalMart isn't.

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