WAL-MART STALLED ON ANCLOTE RIVER SITE By Roxanne Escobales

08/09/06

As we reported last night and can confirm today, community groups opposing the construction of a Wal-mart on the banks of the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs scored a minor victory. Yesterday the big box giant withdrew its permit application to the Army Corps of Engineers.

ACT: When looking at the permit we realized there were some questions about whether this was the proper permit or not… best to have that permit withdrawn and still hold onto our legal options…. And still hold onto o.q. “the site that way�

That was Wal-Mart spokesman Glen Wilkins. He said that the retailer wants to ensure it follows all legal procedures before starting construction. Wilkins said there were quite a few different issues that confronted Wal-Mart in regards to what is known as a nationwide permit, but he would not reveal what they were.

The group, the Friends of the Anclote River has opposed the planned Wal-Mart, saying it will destroy the wetlands environment of the river. The community group charges that the retailer misrepresented the size of the wetlands in its application. But when asked if this were true, Wilkin denied it.

ACT: Absolutely not….that’s completely incorrect information… “of the people who are making those accusations�

But environmental activist Clay Colson says the Anclote River and surrounding rivers would be negatively affected by a Wal-Mart on the site.

ACT: site not conducive to Wal-mart… “honeymoon and caladesi islands�

Colson says the storm water run-off from the paved surfaces and the pollution from the increased traffic will be dumped into the river. In the past, Colson has challenged the Army Corps of Engineers for what he calls widespread abuse of issuing nationwide permits to businesses at great cost to Florida wetlands.

Chris Robovsky is another environmentalist and the man who has the remaining lawsuit against Wal-Mart after the Friends of the River ran out of money to pay the legal bills. Robovsky is also running for Florida House District 45 seat on an anti-Wal-Mart, pro-environment platform. He says Wal-Mart is known for building on wetlands.

ACT: it’s been said that Walmart is a wetlands indicator. “projects on wetlands�

Despite the opposition to its proposed Anclote River store, Wal-Mart says that after it gets the proper permit, it will proceed with building its store on the site.

ACT: Yes, “we do intend to build there�

On a 15-mile stretch of US 19 in North Pinellas County, Wal-mart has two stores and a Sam’s Club. According to the St Petersburg Times, it plans on expanding one of these sites, near NE Coachman Road in Clearwater, by 40,000 feet to include a grocery.

The Friends of the Anclote River will hold a fundraising event on September 16 at Java Junction in downtown Clearwater. For more information visit friendsoftheancloteriver.com.

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