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Anti-Walmart Group Hires Attorneys to Investigate Suit Against Retailer

The attorneys were involved in a failed community fight, including several lawsuits, against a Walmart that opened near Savannah in 2004.

Good Growth DeKalb, the local group fighting the construction of a Walmart Supercenter in North Decatur, has hired attorneys to investigate a lawsuit against the international retailer.

The attorneys, Donald Stack and Martin Shelton, are known for their expertise in environmental and land use law and were involved in a failed community fight against a Walmart that opened in Sandfly, GA, near Savannah in 2004. Stack represented the group in a lawsuit that went all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court, according to the Savannah Morning News.

"I know that the [Sandfly] community was very mobilized, and [Stack and Shelton] worked closely with the community," said Ann Mauney, an organizer with Good Growth DeKalb. "They understand the role of the community in any community activism about a Walmart like ours."

Stack, a former park ranger, reportedly offered a significant amount of help to the Sandfly group probono. He's also been involved in other environmental cases representing small community groups. Both work out of Atlanta, Stack with Stack & Associates and Shelton with Scroggins Goodman. Neither could be reached immediately for comment Thursday evening.

The attorneys are working to gather county documents on the planned Walmart and the larger redevelopment of Suburban Plaza owned by Selig Enterprises, a local developer, Mauney said. No timetable has been set for the first phase of their work, she said. Good Growth DeKalb in January to pay for attorneys to give an initial look at their case and see if a lawsuit is possible.

The county has given Selig and Walmart the go-ahead to build on the site. , however, and does not expect to have one set until April or May. Selig officials say the Walmart is crucial to the struggling shopping center's redevelopment because other brands that have voiced interest in coming, including LA Fitness and hhgregg among others, will not come without the traffic a Walmart lures.

It's unclear what tack Stack and Shelton will take against Walmart and Selig if a lawsuit is ever filed. Stack tried to fight the retailer in Sandfly by claiming the presence of a giant super store would harm the character of two nearby churches, the Morning News reported.

"We see this as a community mobilization," Mauney said. "We feel that the community wants to express itself. It’s not only a legal statement. It’s a community statement."

The attorneys will speak at a community Thursday at at 7pm.

Helen Lenkerd February 22, 2012 at 12:10 PM
What in the world is wrong with Walmart??!! They are an excellent organization, and our community needs them badly. Suburban Plaza, as is, is nothing but an eyesore. There is no place within walking distance to shop for the items Walmart sells, and there are many of us who need it. Our community fought Costco about coming to North DeKalb, and that mall is slowly dying. PLEASE do not continue to fight this battle. Helen Lenkerd, Schoel Dr., (part of the neighborhood)
Robert February 22, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Thanks for the article. Suburban Plaza has been in need of a facelift for years. However, Walmart is not a good fit for our area. Sure, the redevelopment might look good, but at what cost? Studies have shown that Walmart ultimately can reduce area wages, it can lead to overall net job loss, it can end up costing taxpayers more money to support a supercenter, and it can end up hurting middle class families, not helping them. If you're interested in reviewing some studies to back up these claims, here are a few to consider: http://goodgrowthdekalb.org/why-not-a-walmart/the-research/.
David D February 22, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I just want to go on record as saying that there are many more of us out here who may not love WalMart, but don't agree with the tactics being used by Good (sic) Growth Dekalb. They now are making robo-calls that make their group sound like a community service non-profit, rather than a bunch of folks obsessed with hatred for WalMart. I, for one, just don't like how they've obscured their hatred of WalMart by arguing about parking and traffic. Some of them seem caught up in their own 'Drama' and are trying to impose their obsessions on everyone else. This is what some people are calling the talibanization of our neighborhood.
MrMatt February 22, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Good grief - here we go again... First, most studies commissioned start with an axe to grind against Wal-Mart. Second, they make no relative comparison vs. other big box stores that might come in...making it appear as if WM is the only evil company out there, when the 'supposed' negative effects would largely happen regardless of what kind of new merchant came into an area. Third, almost every study, if you read it carefully, talks about the impact on 'retail'...well, WM is the most efficient retailer out there...they need fewer employees to move the same, or more, retail goods. What is almost never mentioned is the WM impact on other industries...i've rarely seen a WM sprout up without restaurants, banks, and numerous other businesses immediately occupy the surrounding spaces. Those jobs and spending don't get counted in WM's job impact on 'retail' (further reinforcing the bias of most of these studies). Fourth, studies like to proclaim lower wages, and likewise argue about their benefits plans. But employees at WM do get both (a wage and benefits)...not true at many small businesses, so you really need to look at total 'compensation' not each item in isolation. Fifth, the argument that local businesses keep/recirculate more money locally again fails to look at the whole picture. Thousands of families save money shopping at WM, and that extra cash gets spent locally in other ways. Yes, challenge WM to be a good steward, but don't jump on an anti-WM bandwagon.
K.C.S. February 22, 2012 at 03:47 PM
This feels like a clearheaded position that I can support.
John Maynard February 22, 2012 at 06:59 PM
I support Walmart coming to Suburban Plaza and live in Clairmont Heights. there my voice has been heard, and it disagrees with Good (sic) Growth DeKalb. BTW - thanks to whoever came and removed all of those trashy "Anti-Walmart Meeting" signs posted all over the neighborhood.
Roselynn February 22, 2012 at 10:27 PM
I found the claims made in your comment to be a little misleading. Knowing there are two sides to every story, I researched some of the studies included in your link. I found many of the studies you were referring to, for example the ones done in New York and Chicago have, fortunately been debunked. Here are links to some literature that refute some of the incorrect claims found in those, so called “studies.” http://www.walmartnyc.com/ http://www.walmartnyc.com/10-facts-you-should-know-about-walmart-in-nyc/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72OV-UgB-3M
Victoria Webb February 23, 2012 at 12:03 AM
If these university and civic economic studies have been 'debunked' on Walmart's own site, I have to question the debunker's motives. Of course Walmart wants all the market share it can get and NYC so far has eluded its grasp. There have been hundreds of studies done on the impact of a Walmart in communities, for over a decade. There is a U of Berkeley/Cornell study from 2007 that is especially revealing about local labor market decreases from big-box or chain stores in their midst. (you'll have to google, it's a pdf) GGD isn't merely opposed to Walmart, we want good sustainable growth in this urban environment. But all the research points to this large a super-store being the wrong solution. A recent article about Walmart wanting more grocery market share. Where would that leave Kroger or Publix? http://www.newrules.org/retail/news/eaters-beware-walmart-taking-over-our-food-system
Tom Doolittle February 23, 2012 at 12:13 AM
I'm no fan of Wal-Mart or large corporate chain corporations--when comparing to local businesses provided finance from local comunity banks, keeping all profits local and developing local networks. However, local businesses would likely not justify or contribute to a wholesale makeover of a shopping center--it would require a business association. They also wouldn't be in a position to support "privatizing" the LCI, now that ARC has shortsightedly rejected this area that will become a rail stop. The $50,000 or so that a WalMart could come up with would probably add the needed funding for a plan. It would also be obvious that they wanted to engage the community proactively. Good Growth DeKalb should meet WalMart and the rest of community half-way and turn negative energy into constructive by using the lawsuit money to add to the LCI coffers--contingent on WalMart doing same. Using that goodwill, all concerned could work with WalMart to adjust their business plan to shape a new urban model (just as they have done with their completely unique model in China. WalMart is obviously capable of massive change.
Sally February 23, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Not only that, I have received a myriad of calls about this, unsolicited, I might add, and extremely annoying. This group of fear mongers has stirred me on to do everything I can to bring Walmart to Suburban Plaza. How dare they bother me for weeks with their problems.
prettyflower February 24, 2012 at 03:21 AM
What makes Kroger or Publix better than Wal-Mart besides the fact that they're already here?
FullDisclosure February 24, 2012 at 03:50 AM
I for one hope the Selig family decides to grant the GGD NIMBYs exactly what they want by letting the center go dark for several years. Then everyone will complain that the center is a blight (which it already is IMO). Lord knows they could afford to stick it these morons who like to tell other people to spend their money.

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