No Wal-Mart for Avondale

The wait is over for Avondale Estates residents. On Dec. 13, Avondale Estates city commissioners unanimously voted against the annexation of property on the corner of Memorial Drive and Columbia Avenue. The annexation would've allowed Wal-Mart to build a 200,000-square-foot Supercenter.

The news shocked many residents, considering that the Avondale planning and zoning board had recommended the annexation last month, albeit with 40 conditions. The biggest condition and point of contention was Wal-Mart's desire for a 24-hour store; all Wal-Mart Supercenters are open 24 hours. Other concerns included increased traffic and crime in the quaint community.

Proponents claimed a Wal-Mart would help revive the former Avondale Mall 23-acre property that has been a blighted eyesore for three years.

"We went through an analysis to determine if annexing the property would be in the best interest of the city, and in the end, we decided it wouldn't be," says Avondale Mayor Jerry McCumber. "It doesn't fit in our little city."

Wal-Mart could try to file a lawsuit against the city or ask the DeKalb County Commission to rezone the property, says Ken Muse, an Avondale resident and Wal-Mart opponent. The DeKalb County Commission has made several promises to Avondale Estates that it won't allow rezoning for Wal-Mart. The property is currently zoned for mixed-use development.

"This is really the only way the vote could go given all the facts," Muse says. "Avondale can't handle something the size of Wal-Mart and I think DeKalb will hold up their end of the deal. The fight isn't over, but soon we'll bounce these guys out for good."??

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