Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lancaster welcomes Wal-mart, development

After months of bluster and mounds of letters to the editors, lawn signs, and sniping at town officials, the Leominster-based "Our Lancaster First" lost it's bid to slow the development of the route 2 corridor in Lancaster.

It would be easy to have been surprised that the motions to put a six-month moratorium on retail development and to redefine a "shopping center" in a way to block big-box stores failed. Nearly all of the opinion on the subject has been in favor of slowing retail development. But knowing Lancaster as I do, it's not a surprise at all. The ubiquitous John Schumacher-Hardy summed up the opinions of many residents:
"I love Lancaster so this might seem a little strange to some of my friends who are on the other side of the fence," said Schumacher-Hardy, who pointed out that his family has resided in the town for 361 years. "We've had 28 to 29 years of discussion of this issue. Now we have an enterprise that has come along and proposed a development that would bring revenue to our town and bring jobs. It’s on the fringe of our town ...It just makes sense. I am more afraid of these cookie-cutter condo developments coming in and dumping 200 homes in a community and 300 new students in the school system and really impacting our infrastructure. [The proposed Wal-Mart] is in an area that will impact us in the very least."
The fact is, most Lancastrians realize that the development proposed for North Lancaster is in the only place it can succeed without significantly affecting the quality of life. It's along the highway, tucked away on the Leominster town line, near few homes of other Lancastrians. Further, the usual (and valid) argument that stores liek Wal-mart put local entrepreneurs out of business carried little weight in Lancaster because there are no significant retail businesses in town. Sure, the presence of a big box store could put more pressure on businessmen in Leominster or surrounding towns, but Lancastrians aren't really worried about them.

I think many Lancaster residents also resent the presence of so many Leominster residents at the top of the "Our Lancaster First" organization. I'll bet there was a strong feeling that out-of-towners shouldn't be telling them what to do.

In some respects, it is also good news for Wal-mart foes in Leominster, because it could mean that the Wal-mart just recently proposed for the route 117 site just three miles south may be off the table again.

Generally speaking, I'm against the proposal because I don't think we need another Wal-mart or Target or K-mart in town. But I'm also against those of us in Leominster telling the good people of Lancaster what to do with their land. Time will tell whether or not they've made a good decision.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Post a Comment


No Drumlins Copyright © 2009 Premium Blogger Dashboard Designed by SAER