Some W. Dundee residents oppose new Wal-Mart

May 14, 2008 4:41:51 PM PDT
There is growing opposition in suburban West Dundee to plans for a Wal-Mart superstore.Many feel the large store would spoil the character of the community and would hurt local retailers.

The proposed site is at Huntley Road and Elm Avenue in West Dundee.

Some residents of the village of 7,200 want to stop some fields from turning into a big Wal-Mart.

Dundee Neighbors is a community group that recently organized to thwart the world's largest retailer from setting up a superstore like the one four miles away due to worries about the environment, light pollution and noise.

"Wal-Mart, isn't necessarily the appropriate fit for that property. (An)other commercial development, perhaps, (could be) more suitable to the neighborhood. You see it in the background, residential, there's parks where kids play soccer. We're standing in a residential area now," said Brian O'Connor, attorney for Dundee Neighbors.

The field is owned by real estate investment trust General Growth and has been zoned for commercial use for years. It's adjacent to the trust's Spring Hill Mall, a 1978 development that is considered the regional shopping center for northern Kane County. The village of West Dundee supports the development, but after a raucous public hearing on the matter Monday, has asked Wal-Mart to further its studies of the impact a super center would have on traffic.

"The principal issue is to maintain the long-term fiscal integrity of Spring Hill Mall. That has to be one of the primary goals of this organization. Because there are numerous examples throughout the Chicago area of commercial tax bases that were strong at one time and are struggling," said Joseph Carvallo, West Dundee village manager.

Xxx says extra tall light standards like these will bleed unwanted illumination into her neighborhood and a busy commercial center will bring truck traffic and commuter cars onto pristine Tartan Way as a bypass to busy Huntley Road. Wal-Mart will widen part of this road. But some say that's not good enough.

"Already this can take 20 minutes to get a half mile from here. And then on the other side you've got two lanes as well, and then keep going and you've got the bridge. I don't' think West Dundee has the infrastructure to sustain a 187,000 square-foot box," said Toni Martell, activist.

Activists are adamant they aren't just opposing the development because it is Wal-Mart that wants to build.

Wal-Mart has a history of strained community relations, including the fight over locating a big box store on the South Side in 2004.

"We're not opposed to industry coming in. But it's the 24-hour supercenter, whether Wal-Mart or some other big box, does not fit our community," said Lisa Geisler,activist.

No comment was forthcoming from the Chicago lawyers or from the corporate head office. Wal-Mart, however, has made some concessions in their plans for their proposal. One is that no firearms would be sold at the superstore. And two, the automotive lube, oil and filter services also would not be offered.

The next community meeting on this issue is May 27.

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