CITIZENS SAY TARPON SPRINGS WALMART WAS APPROVED ILLEGALLY-Andrew Stelzer06/28/06
It was almost a year and a half ago that the tarpon Springs city commission approved the site plan for the development of a Wal-Mart super center along 75 acres on the banks of the Anclote River. But since then, nothing has been built on the site, and the approval is tied up in court. Now some of the hundreds of Wal-Mart opponents believe they have a new angle to prevent the superstore from being constructedâ€”evidence that Wal-Mart lied in information they supplied to the US army corps of engineers.
ACT-Chris â€œA year ago we stood here, they ruled 3 over 300..we cant live with it..â€?
Chris Hrabovsky, with friends of the Anclote River is already involved in a court case trying to stop the construction of the more than 200,000 square foot Wal-Mart store, with more than 900 parking spaces.
ACT-Chris â€œWal-Mart has awakened the giant, n more will we stand by..â€?
The paperwork Hrabovsky submitted to the city commission this week lays out what he says were several illegal moves by Wal-Mart in the application they made to the US army corps of engineers. First, that they applied for a type of permit that is not allowed near a critical water resource, or wetlands. Second, that Wal-Mart split the project into 3 pieces, in order not to have the traffic and environmental impacts of the project considered all at once, which is required by law. And third, he says Wal-Mart falsified the classification of certain parcels of land, in order to show the plan would not destroy more than 1/3rd of an acre of wetlands, which would have been the limit of what was legally permitted.
ACT-Chris â€œThis is a clear cut case of building on a river. About 6 acres of wetlands wet missing. The permit they received a road went missing, and they subdivided the land. Its incumbent on the ACE to rescind.â€?
Hrabovsky was joined by about a dozen community members outside of Tarpon Springs city hall, calling on the city commission to urge the US Army corps of engineers into action. Jan Fowler is a local resident involved with friends of the Anclote River.
ACT-Fowler â€?it does sound like the application was intentionally breached, just right under the wire, 6 acres was left off application to slide under nationwide..â€?
Fowler moved outside of the tarpon springs city limits herself because of the increase in traffic, which she says would become completely unbearable if a Wal-Mart superstore is ever built.
ACT-fowler â€œNorth Pinellas County doesnâ€™t need another 16,000 cars..we have been trying to keep this from happening..I moved away because of gridlock, add another, to enrich Wal-Mart there is no benefit to put store on beautiful real estate leftâ€¦trees, hills, tortoisesâ€?
Wendy Crisato was previously involved in a lawsuit to prevent the stores construction. Building permits still have not been issued.
ACT â€œIts not over, we will dig out the truth and that will not be built..â€?
Fowler says the citizens must be heard.
ACT-Fowler Iâ€™m a businessperson and I accept it will be developed. But we could do much better that that.â€?
The local residents said they will file a lawsuit if needed, but for now they are hoping that the city commission will urge the US army corps of engineers to act.
ACT-Chris â€œThey are supposed to protect the environment and the laws, they have failed, Army corps has the power to revoke of modify and permit..â€?
Hrabovsky says this battle will have ramifications far beyond Tarpon Springs
ACT-Chris â€œAfter this is finished, we ill turn our attention to Wal-Martâ€™s across country, they may tear some down, they will stop building new ones..â€?
For more information about the citizens attempt to stop the construction of Wal-Mart, log onto www.friendsoftheancloteriver.com/