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Mobtown Beat

Anti-Walmart Appeal Fails

A overhaul of the city’s zoning, may provide opponents with another chance to challenge the project.

The Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled against Benn Ray and Brendan Coyne, who had made a zoning appeal to hold up the so-called 25th Street Station in Remington, where developers plan to bring a “box-store campus” featuring a Walmart. The court unanimously ruled that the two petitioners do not live close enough to the proposed project to appeal it.

“I’m very disappointed,” Ray tells the City Paper. “I think communities and residents should be able to have a say in the development that takes place in their neighborhoods.”

Ray says he lives “five or six blocks” from the long-proposed development. “According to Baltimore City and according to the developers, I don’t have any right to have a say in how a development five or six blocks away is going to affect my life.”

The project, spearheaded by WV Urban Developments LLC, was originally supposed to house a Lowe’s hardware store and a Walmart in addition to residential buildings and parking. In 2011, the Lowe’s pulled out of the development, which Ray, co-owner of Atomic Books in Hampden and a member of Bmore Local, sees as a victory in its own right.

“The Lowe’s was being sold to the community as something the community needs,” Ray says. “But if you take a look within a two- to three-mile radius, there are a half a dozen or more hardware stores. The reason a Lowe’s wanted to move in there is not because it was a hardware desert but because there is already an established market there, which Walmart and Lowe’s both felt they could decimate and dominate.”

The court’s ruling gives 25th Street Station the go-ahead, but Transform Baltimore, a general overhaul of the city’s zoning, may provide opponents with another chance to challenge the project. WV Urban Development did not respond to CP’s emails or phone calls for comment by press time, but their website has long looked forward to “a decisive resolution of the appeals so we can bring shopping, investment, and jobs to the neighborhood and City as soon as possible.”

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