Lupino Proposes Law to Require Big-Box Impact Studies

Tony Lupino has proposed legislation in Cranston which would require potential developers to pay for impact studies on how big-box stores would impact the local community and environment. The Projo article stated:

With opposition to a “big-box� proposal for the site of the Mulligan’s Island golf complex surging, the City Council is weighing an ordinance that could make it more difficult for developers to build large-scale retail projects in the city.

The measure, which would require developers proposing a project larger than 75,000 square feet to pay for a study of the potential impacts on the local economy and environment, is part of a nationwide push to curb the influence of Wal-Mart, Home Depot and other giant retailers.

Last week, Maine became the first state to require impact studies, like those contemplated in Cranston, in every municipality. Legislators in California, Oregon and New Jersey have proposed similar measures. And cities and towns across the country have passed their own local laws aimed at big-box stores.

Westerly officials are weighing a “dark store� ordinance designed to prevent chains from leaving big boxes empty when they go out of business. And in Middletown, developers must pay for an independent consultant, selected by the town, to review possible effects on traffic, town services, the environment and community character.

“I think there’s a lot of concern across the country and in a number of Rhode Island communities about the impact of big-box stores,� said Sheila Brush, director of programs for Grow Smart Rhode Island, a public interest group fighting sprawl.

Anthony J. Lupino, the City Council member proposing the Cranston ordinance, said he was inspired by a flood of calls from Mulligan’s Island neighbors opposed to the retail project proposed by Providence developer Churchill & Banks.

The question of what is going to become of the American suburbs is an interesting one. Jim Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, argues that along with peak oil, we may now be experiencing the onset of peak suburbia, and that we may not need to worry about the specter of further development for very long. Soon it will be obvious that there is no need for more retail development. Home sales continue to slow. Durable goods orders are weaker than expected. First quarter growth for 2007 is the weakest in 4 years. Americans already have 20.2 square feet of retail space per person, compared with 3.3 square feet in Sweden and 2.5 square feet in England. If you believe Jim Kunstler, we can stick a fork in the suburbs — they’re done.

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3 responses

  1. I can shop at Benny’s without bringing my hiking shoes and a flare so they can find me. Seriously, sometimes you don’t want to walk into a store that is bigger than your neighborhood. Shoppers, consider a smaller store first. You’ll be glad some day when you just can’t face another half hour stuck in the parking garage at Providence Place.

  2. Hopefully there will be enough opposition to the destruction of suburbs throughout the US and active citizens fighting for their communities and homes.

  3. Suzanne Arena blog name: Joan of Arc, Jr./JOA, Jr.

    Bravo Tony, if we are to protect our sacred open spaces in our congested Cities and Towns, this would be a way to ensure if there is a need….and yet reflect how it fits in the scheme of balance in the community. Here is Cranston, folks are hostile to the development of this area at Mulligan’s because we residents have much to lose.

    All communities can benefit with this sort of legislation. As Cranston is seriously contemplating this development, the City Planning Committee should demand just such study.

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