Council seeks more information on proposed Wal-Mart
June 22, 2005
Jennifer Donatelli
Staff Writer

Dissatisfied with Wal-Mart's failure to provide renderings of its proposed store in the former Capital Plaza Mall, a Cheverly Town Councilman threatened he and his colleagues would block the store's development.

Councilman Leon Schachter told Rhoda Washington, Wal-Mart's community affairs manager at the June 9 Town Council meeting he and his colleagues want to know what the store will look like before they have any say in the process.

During the two-hour hearing, Schachter said he would be less likely to support the store if council has to spend much energy trying to get the Bentonville, Arkansas-based organization to cooperate.

"I think it's in Wal-Mart's interest to cooperate and not stall us," he told Washington.

Schachter and other council members discussed their concerns about the appearance, its impact on the area's traffic, whether employees would be county residents and what other companies could move into Capital Plaza as they considered a resolution to support the store's development.

Although Capital Plaza is in Landover, several neighboring municipalities have been considering similar resolutions. Washington promised Wal-Mart would take all their concerns into consideration. The council will continue discussing the issue at its meeting at 8 p.m. tonight.

The Council heard from leaders of Progressive Cheverly, a grassroots citizens group opposed to the store for several reasons, saying Wal-Mart does not pay its workers a fair wage, undermines small businesses and sells undesirable items like alcohol and firearms.

But in her presentation to council, Washington said the store would pay its 200 to 250 workers -- the majority of them county residents -- at least $9.60 an hour, whether they are full or part-time.

Full-time residents need to work at least 36 hours, but full and part-time workers are eligible for benefits, Washington said.

The store would not sell alcohol or firearms. She also said Wal-Mart has helped improve traffic problems with road improvements at other locations.

While acknowledging Progressive Cheverly has "legitimate concerns," Washington said Wal-Mart is a good corporate citizen, globally and locally.

"We've contributed $2.2 million to local charities. I think we have instituted ourselves as a good corporate citizen," she said.

Washington could not say when the 142,129-square-foot store would open because the company has not received any county permits.

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