Controversy around big-box stores like Walmart, Target, Lowes and Home Depot is nothing new, but communities are getting smarter about tackling these corporate giants — sometimes against considerable odds. In Cape Cod and a handful of other areas across the country, the Economic Impact Review is becoming a vital tool for handling development disputes and related issues. The review forces a detailed, thoughtful conversation on the true local economic impact of big-box construction. The result, reports Stacy Mitchell at Grist, can be empowering.
You might think opposition to big-box stores is limited to chichi communities with decided ideas about their look, feel, and “character” as evidenced in communities like California’s Sonoma, which has a long history of very rigid restrictions on development. It turns out, opposition to these stores is about more than whether they look attractive or preserve the historic heritage of a community. Many people are legitimately concerned about the local economy, and unfortunately, development review meetings commonly exclude this vital factor from the conversation.