In August 2001, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance barring the construction of stores larger than 70,000 square feet and requiring those over 25,000 square feet to obtain a conditional use permit. The ordinance will apply to all land in the county that lies outside of municipal boundaries. Coconino County is located in northern Arizona and includes the city of Flagstaff.
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Hoping to protect their community’s semi-rural landscape and lifestyle, a group of residents and small business owners in Agoura Hills, California are pushing for a ballot initiative that would ban retail stores larger than 60,000 square feet. Agoura Hills is a town of 20,000 people located about 35 miles north of Los Angeles.
Citizens for Responsible Development (CRD) began organizing earlier this year after a developer proposed building a 255,000 square foot retail complex south of Highway 101.
A New York court has let stand a local law enacted by the town of Mamaroneck governing development outside its borders. Under the law, large-scale developments that abut, adjoin, or are adjacent to the Mamaroneck’s borders must undergo a comprehensive review and obtain a permit from the Town Board.
The law covers residential projects of 250 or more homes, facilities of more than 100,000 square feet, and projects involving parking for more than 1,000 vehicles.
Several years ago the major drugstore chains—CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Eckerd—lost interest in strip malls and began to focus their expansion plans on prominent downtown intersections. As Walgreens CEO Daniel Jorndt told the New York Times, the chain’s preferred location these days is "the corner of Main and Main."
Often, of course, these intersections are occupied by some of the community’s oldest and most significant buildings.
Wal-Mart has become one of the nation’s largest campground operators. Every night thousands of recreational vehicles (RVs) set-up camp in Wal-Mart parking lots. The practice, which first began in the late 1980s, has grown rapidly in recent years. In places like Durango, Colorado and Anchorage, Alaska, Wal-Mart parking lots are jammed full of RVs night after night.
Parking overnight at Wal-Mart is free, so campers save the $20 to $35 fee charged by traditional campgrounds.
Efforts to apply sales taxes equally to both bricks-and-mortar and online retailers have made substantial progress since our last update (see January 2002 issue), yet it is likely to be several more years before a level playing field becomes a reality.
The Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot compel out-of-state companies, including internet and catalogue retailers, to collect state and local sales taxes.
The number of communities that prohibit large retail stores continues to grow.
In order "to protect residents and visitors from the perils of regional, large format, mega-style commercial development," the town of Nags Head, North Carolina banned stores larger than 50,000 square feet in July.
As we reported in recent issues of this Bulletin, Wal-Mart is lobbying several state legislatures to repeal laws that bar below-cost sales of gasoline. Wal-Mart is installing gas stations in the parking lots of hundreds of its superstores. By selling gas below its wholesale cost, Wal-Mart hopes to draw shoppers into its stores and eliminate independent competitors. The problem is, many states have laws that require retailers to sell gas at a minimum mark-up.
Alex Pryor, owner of Zin Restaurant in Kansas City, has been watching in frustration as the city’s independent restaurants give way to national chains. Although the chains are often outmatched by the independents in terms of quality and service, their considerable resources enable them to gobble up prime locations and to buy market share through extensive advertising. Upscale chain restaurants have also grown increasingly clever at hiding their chain identity and appearing to be unique, locally owned businesses.
After more than a decade of decline, independent pharmacies are beginning to make a comeback. Last year, 244 new independent pharmacies opened, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). By comparison, the top three pharmacy chains had a combined increase of 234 stores last year. Walgreens posted a net gain of 344 new stores, CVS was up 35 stores, and Rite Aid had a net loss of 145 stores.
The increase in independent pharmacies is a sharp turnaround from the last decade.