Flash flooding in Decatur July 13 did not stop a group from protesting a proposed Suburban Plaza Walmart.
Carrying handmade picket signs, members of Good Growth DeKalb, which is opposed to the Walmart development, gathered at the usually busy intersection of Medlock Road, North Decatur Road and Scott Boulevard.
Carter Joseph, of Decatur, participated in the protest with a sign that read “Walmart = Disaster for Decatur.”
“True, this particular parcel needs redevelopment, but not a Walmart Supercenter,” Joseph said, complaining that residents of the city of Decatur do not have input into the development, which is just outside the city’s border.
“That is one horrendous intersection,” Joseph said. “Emergency vehicles will not be able to get through at critical times of the day.”
Walmart is planning to construct a 150,000-square-foot store with groceries, deli, a pharmacy and optical center with underground parking.
The developer, Selig Enterprises, has predicted that the improved development would add 600-800 jobs to the community and spur redevelopment in the corridor.
Joseph said Walmart officials should consider moving to Scott Boulevard where there are several vacant lots that were once car dealerships.
“If you’ve got to come in, that’s better,” Joseph said.
Betty Blondeau of Good Growth DeKalb (GGD) said GGD and representatives of Selig Enterprises did not find “common ground” during a July 12 meeting.
“Speaking through their lawyer, Selig made it clear from the beginning there was nothing to discuss about Walmart. It’s not going to change and it’s not going away,” Blondeau said.
GGD presented Selig “a petition signed by more than 3,000 people who oppose Walmart and cited the 500 plus ‘Stop Walmart’ signs that are all over the neighborhood as well as our survey, which has 75 percent of the responses opposed to Walmart,” Blondeau said.
Blondeau said the developers are unwilling to budge on the Walmart plan because “the deal with Walmart provides a financial base for Selig to bring in junior anchor stores like Fitness, Michaels and Bed, Bath & Beyond.”
“Thus, the gateway to Decatur becomes another mall filled with chain stores,” Blondeau said. “It seems there’s little interest in small, local businesses and mixed-use [developments] that have followed the precedence set so successfully in downtown Decatur.”
“At this point, finding a legal course to pursue is the only alternative to stop this Walmart,” Blondeau said.
Rep. Rahn Mayo, (D-91), who sponsored a resolution passed by the Georgia General Assembly supporting the efforts of GGD, said the group’s work is “very important to the quality of the development and the community in which these individuals live.”
“They’ve taken the initiative to be responsible for the quality of what comes into this community,” Mayo said. “It’s very important to protect property values and the growth that comes about from establishments that may not be in the very best interest of the citizens.”
Mayo said the “pride of this community is at stake” as GGD works to “get what we deserve and …protect the integrity of this community.”
GGD’s “work and continued work is recognized by the Georgia House of Representatives and the importance of citizen engagement couldn’t mean more than us standing here in the rain this afternoon representing what so many people have worked so hard for,” Mayo said.