Residents want to halt Wal-Mart

LAWRENCEVILLE - A new Wal-Mart slated to come to Duluth has some residents in a rage.

Tim West, who lives across the street from the proposed site at the corner of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Chattahoochee Drive, has started an online petition asking that the city of Duluth prevent the construction of a store in the residential neighborhood.

The petition had 23 signatures Friday afternoon, and West said he plans to send a survey to City Council members and residents asking whether the new Wal-Mart would benefit residents' quality of life and whether they are aware of crime that they claim comes with the stores.

"It's not a good idea for them to be coming into a residential area and just ruin it," West said. "They've ruined a lot of communities."

Chris Collins, a senior planner with the city, said the land is zoned for commercial use. Wal-Mart has requested two zoning variances, to change the pitch of the roof and alter the location of a required landscape strip. Those requests were tabled at a Wednesday Zoning Board of Appeals meeting until July 25.

Collins said most of the surrounding property owners have opposed the project, in particular, the residents of three nearby subdivisions. An attorney representing the retailer did not return a phone call seeking information about the project Friday and Wal-Mart's district manager was out of town until Monday. No one else in the office was available to speak about the Duluth proposal.

The Wal-Mart would be the county's 13th. Collins said no construction would begin until the variance issue was resolved.

West said if the store's request to have a flat roof is not granted, Wal-Mart will not be able to stay within the height limitations required by city ordinance. He said he hopes that detail is enough to keep the big-box store from locating near his neighborhood, where he fears its presence would mean lower property values, higher crime and longer commute times.

"We're up against a wall, that's for sure," he said. "The quality of life would go way downhill with Wal-Mart coming in here. We're just going to try to stop them."