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In January of last year, residents in Slidell, La., a suburb of New Orleans on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, were shocked to discover that a wooded stretch of land tucked into the middle of their neighborhood was slated to be cleared for a Walmart Neighborhood Market. It not only seemed an unlikely place to put such a store, but just weeks earlier Walmart had announced plans to build a Neighborhood Market less than four miles south on Pontchartrain Drive. Furthermore, Slidell already had two Walmart Supercenters. Developing the wooded lot on Roberts Drive would be the fourth Walmart in a town of fewer than 30,000 people.
“We are beside ourselves,” said Caroline Poupart, who lived directly behind the site of the proposed Walmart. “That green space has been here since the inception of time,” she told The Times-Picayune.
Yet there was little residents could do to stop Walmart. Like most U.S. cities, Slidell has permissive zoning when it comes to commercial development. This particular wooded lot is zoned for “neighborhood commercial,” under which Walmart’s Neighborhood Market store, which is essentially a large supermarket fronted by a few acres of parking, qualified as an acceptable use.
Today, the forested lot in north Slidell is gone, and the small town is saddled with four Walmart stores.
The situation in Slidell is a microcosm of a strategy Walmart is pushing hard across the southern U.S., and will soon advance northward. Having used its supercenters to capture one-quarter of U.S. grocery sales, the chain is building a new wave of smaller stores that are poised to clean up the market share its supercenters don’t already control. In the New Orleans metro area, Walmart accounted for 40 percent of the $2.1 billion people spent on food in 2012, according to data from Chain Store Guide. Its new stores in Slidell and other suburbs will inch that figure closer to 50 percent.
When television cameras zoomed in on Kansas Governor Sam Brownback in the middle of the Kansas-Wichita State NCAA basketball game a thunderous chorus of boos broke out. Viewers gained a rare glimpse of the politics behind March Madness. The announcers pointedly ignored the boos. Viewers might have been better served if the announcers had offered… Continue reading
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2015 CONTACT: Rebecca Toews, rebecca@ILSR.org, (612)808-0689 Key Passages and Arguments From The FCC Decision to Remove Barriers to Municipal Networks in TN and NC The Federal Communications Commission has released the order that allows Chattanooga and Wilson, as well as many other cities in North Carolina and Tennessee, to… Continue reading
Arnie Arnesen interviewed ILSR’s Director of Democratic Energy John Farrell on WNHN’s The Attitude last week, seeking an answer to this question: can we expect electric utilities to embrace the energy sources of the future, like solar? Electric Utilities Play by the (Old) Rules Arnie and John discussed the hesitance of utilities to embrace innovation… Continue reading
Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders is a community composter training program with a community service component. It was developed by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and ECO City Farms in order to train a new cadre of community leaders in the art and science of community composting. Continue reading