Maryland County Mandates Smaller Stores

Date: 16 Aug 2004 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Calvert County, Maryland, has enacted regulations limiting retail stores to 120,000 square feet in the town of Prince Frederick, 75,000 square feet in three other towns, and 25,000 square feet in the rest of the county.

The regulations block Wal-Mart’s plans to double the size of its 97,000-square-foot Prince Frederick store, the only Wal-Mart in the county, and to build a new supercenter in the town of Dunkirk.

Big-box development has been the subject of much debate in this largely rural county of 84,000 people. A public hearing on big-box size limits earlier this summer drew more than 400 people.

In voting to enact the limits on August 10, the County Commission concluded that size caps were needed to preserve the area’s rural character, control traffic, and encourage smaller, community-serving businesses. Massive stores designed to draw shoppers from the beyond the local area, the commission noted, would exacerbate existing traffic problems and overburden county roads.

Commissioner Susan Shaw also noted that much of the revenue taken in by large retailers leaves the local economy. Locally owned businesses, she pointed out, spend a much larger share of their revenue within the county.

Another Maryland county, Montgomery, is expected to vote on a retail size cap in September.

— Other examples of Store Size Caps

Calvert County government

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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which partners with a wide range of allies to implement policies that counter concentrated power and strengthen local economies.