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Anti-Walmart Group Considering Legal Fight, Raising Money

Good Growth DeKalb, which is fighting the construction of a Walmart Supercenter in Suburban Plaza, has met with attorneys and is raising money to explore a legal fight against the international retailer and Selig Enterprises.

A group of local residents fighting the construction of a Walmart Supercenter inside North Decatur's Suburban Plaza is consulting attorneys about a possible legal fight against the international retailer and is raising money to pay for it.

About 20 residents showed up to a Tuesday evening meeting of the newly named Good Growth DeKalb at to discuss their continued fight against Walmart and Selig Enterprises, the local development company that owns the beleaguered shopping center where it will be built.

Over the holidays, members of the group met with two sets of attorneys to get an idea of what it would cost, first, to find out if there is a legal angle to prevent Walmart from building and, second, what it would cost to pay for an attorney to see the issue through.

The group now has a goal to raise $4,000 by Feb. 1 to hire an attorney to see if there is a legal way to fight Selig and Walmart. The attorneys they've consulted have expertise in land use and environmental law, particularly water runoff, said Ann Mauney, a group member.

"[The attorneys] said, 'You go down seven avenues and maybe you find one thing you can fight,'" she told the group. "We have got to commit ourselves if this is something that people want to do. ... It is now or never."

Good Growth DeKalb currently has a bank account with $675 in it, said Staci Dixon, a group member who ran the meeting.

Group members plan to canvas neighborhoods asking for donations to meet the initial exploratory fee. The actual legal fight, however, could cost between $10,000 and $15,000, members said. The group also plans to stage at least one protest this Friday in front of Suburban Plaza from 4:30pm - 5:30pm and also hopes to organize a larger town hall meeting that would include a hired attorney and speakers who have successfully fought other Walmart store developments.

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.

"There are some very unlikely scenarios in this country where people have changed the picture with Walmart," Mauney said. "We’ve got to decide if we’re really going to make an effort."

The group will meet again next Tuesday at 7pm.

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

Jennifer C. January 25, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Very good point, Cheryl.
Cheryl January 25, 2012 at 09:53 PM
I must add--now that I have been to a Good Growth Dekalb meeting, I can say that the opposition includes many smart, educated, realistic and committed folks who are not in any way uncivil. It is frustrating when the pro Wal Mart voices on the Patch are able to ignore every single well-reasoned statement anyone puts forth against the development. It does lead one to wonder about paid trolls in our midst. A gig as an undercover shill for Wal Mart is probably fairly lucrative.
Jennifer C. January 25, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Yes, I agree.
Deanne January 25, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Imagine the frustrations of the neighbors in favor of the redevelopment plans when well reasoned comments are met with name calling, speculations, being talked down to (and don't even get me started on the folks who rely on links to make a point!). Probably many of the Good Growth folks are cringing over it too. Those who are doing it must be getting some kind of satisfaction from it, but it sure is undermining their cause. (No reply needed.)
Cheryl January 26, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Deanne, the types of comments you describe have been coming from BOTH sides. Maybe I went over the top to suggest that there may be internet trolls involved--I apologize. Otherwise, I think my comments have been very courteous, while voicing opposition. I guess it is not possible to disagree without some taking offense. As the development will likely go through, time will tell whether it was a good thing or not. This is the type of thing that arises when there is a lack of leadership and vision on the part of our elected officials--those affected end up fighting among themselves, and nobody wins, least of all, our children. I promise this is my last comment on the whole issue, as I know my views are unwelcome and I don't want to be that despised neighbor.....but, I think we should all consider the early 20th Century, when so many of the beautiful, liveable parts of our city were built. The forefathers who built stately homes, sidewalks, linear parks, banks and train stations with lovely architectural details...what would they have done? Everything they built was beautiful, meant to last and constructed on a human scale. They did not give us crappy shopping centers--they gave us a beautiful town square. What are we going to give our children?

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