Landover adopts stand on Wal-Mart

Story agrees to demands to give store ‘attractive and positive presence’ in community

Thursday, May 11, 2006

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Christopher Anderson⁄The Gazette
A new Wal-Mart store is under construction near the Capital Plaza Mall in Landover. Residents are pleased their demands to bar the sale of guns, ammunition and alcohol were deeded by the company.

Wal-Mart has agreed to residents’ demands, and the store under construction in Landover won’t carry guns, ammunition or liquor.

A coalition of 16 county communities announced nine goals for the incoming retail giant Wednesday. Wal-Mart officials have been in talks with community residents for the past year.

‘‘Wal-Mart was coming, like it or not, and the community came together to fight for the best Wal-Mart possible,” said Edmonston Mayor Adam Ortiz.

Residents and elected officials drafted standards that seek to prevent crime and give the store an attractive and positive presence in the area.

‘‘If things go as we’re planning, the community would have achieved things in this Wal-Mart that no community has in this region,” Ortiz said.

The coalition was anxious for Wal-Mart to bar the sale of guns, ammunition and alcohol.

The other Wal-Marts in the county, in Bowie and Clinton, stopped selling guns and ammunition last year because of the rising crime rates, said Wal-Mart public affairs manager Rhoda Washington. Neither store sells alcohol.

‘‘We want our customers to be and feel safe,” Washington said.

‘‘We have enough liquor stores in Prince George’s County and we don’t need another big company selling alcohol,” said Rebekah Lusk, vice president for the Port Towns Community Development Corporation.

The residents also want parking lot security, an attractive exterior and landscaping, an energy-efficient site and an ongoing dialogue with the developers. In addition, they have asked the store to recruit workers locally, refrain from operating a 24-hour business and address the potential for traffic congestion.

Wal-Mart has already agreed that the store will not be open 24 hours, and has worked to develop an alternative exterior design. Progressive Maryland director Tom Hucker said this agreement was not a huge step for Wal-Mart, and that the store will still be an unfortunate presence in the community.

‘‘The last thing we need in Prince George’s County on the Route 450 corridor is more minimum wage jobs with terrible benefits,” Hucker said.

But Councilman David C. Harrington (D-Dist. 5) of Cheverly said this would be an opportunity for Wal-Mart to correct a checkered past.

The Maryland legislature passed a law requiring Wal-Mart and other large employers to spend more on health insurance for their employees.

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