After intensive reading of the various correspondences between the city council and Corvallis citizens, it became clear that the people to blame for Walmart’s invasion of Corvallis are the city’s officials. Unlike many cities, Corvallis did not require a city council hearing where locals could submit votes as to whether or not a Walmart should be built at all. In Walmart’s true dirty, rotten fashion, they found a loophole in Corvallis’ zoning laws—just like they’ve done nearly everywhere else in the U.S. They downsized their store to fit the limited space allowed in the city’s zoning laws. So all the developer who owned the land had to do was send in a proposal of the possible building size to the city who did not do anything since the building did not break any zoning laws.
Our city failed us by taking away our right to speak for our town and culture, especially when it seems quite obvious that a vote for or against Walmart would have been dominated by “no’s”. In 2005, residents of Pawley’s Island, South Carolina kept Lowe’s from building—the law there requires a city council meeting in which the building proposal is put forth, and local citizens, business owners, and councilmen can vote on whether or not the particular retailer should be allowed to move into town. The town also used that same method a few days ago for Walmart.
Corvallis also missed out on another opportunity—eminent domain. In Hercules, California, the town successfully warded off Walmart from destroying their view of the San Pablo Bay in 2006 by using the power of eminent domain, a Supreme Court-created rule. Corvallis could have commandeered the developer’s land for city use in order to protect us from catching the Walmart cancer. However, our city simply sat on its hands and watched the plague be injected into our lovely town. Why? Maybe there just wasn’t enough concern for the local lifestyle many Corvallis citizens value so highly. Either way, maybe it’s time we all relocated to Pawley or Hercules.
By Cristina Himka