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Wal-Mart Battle Looms



At least 250 people are gearing up to battle a Wal-Mart Superstore that would instantly double the amount of commercial retail space in the town of Monument.

The proposed 184,000-foot Superstore, on Baptist Road just east of Interstate 25, would be highly visible from the highway and likely would be a magnet for more commercial big-box chain-store development in the immediate vicinity, said El Paso County assistant planning director Carl Schueler.

"It's the agglomeration concept," Schueler said. "When you have one big-box store or fast-food restaurant or hotel or motel, there is an inducement for more because they support each other as a cluster."

Schueler said the county has met with Wal-Mart developers in a pre-application meeting and they are expected to present a formal application in two weeks. But nearby residents of the proposed Superstore are organizing in opposition.

"This is so obviously a bad idea, said John Heiser, a county planning commissioner and spokesman of the Coalition of Tri-Lakes Communities, a group that organized to address land use issues in the Monument area.

Activists have collected 750 signatures so far in an effort to protest the plan, which they say would decimate the town's mom-and-pop-owned business center, destroy the character of the nearby neighborhood and create a traffic nightmare.

Heiser noted that another Wal-Mart Superstore is only nine minutes away to the south, near the Chapel Hills Mall off I-25 and Academy Boulevard.

The chain initially approached Town of Monument trustees last year, indicating interest in building the chain store, but ultimately backed away from the project. This year, they have opted to attempt to build the store with county approval.

However, Heiser's group plans to adopt the strategies of activists in other parts of the country and state, including in Woodland Park west of Colorado Springs, who have waged successful battles to keep Wal-Mart away.

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