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.