Wal-Mart uses new tactic to dodge town law

/ Source: The Associated Press

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is employing a new tactic to get around a Maryland town ordinance that limits store sizes — build two outlets right next to each other.

Signaling what could be a new approach to getting around such restrictions, Wal-Mart will build adjacent stores in Dunkirk, Md. with one outlet being constructed so that it will be just under the 75,000 square-foot limit that is allowed by a Calvert County ordinance.

It is the first time Wal-Mart has considered such a measure, said Mia Masten, a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman.

"As these big-box bills come up, all retailers will just have to be flexible," Masten said. "In this case, we developed a model that allowed us to reach our customers."

Masten said Wal-Mart could use the strategy in other locations.

Calvert County passed an ordinance in August limiting the size of commercial retail buildings to 75,000 square feet. Wal-Mart usually builds stores that range from at least 100,000 square feet to more than 200,000 square feet for Supercenters.

Wal-Mart proposed a 74,998-square-foot store in Dunkirk that will be next to a 22,689-square-foot garden center. The two stores would have their own entrances, utilities, bathrooms and cash registers.

Wal-Mart has faced backlash for trying to expand in certain areas, and local jurisdictions have passed measures like the one in Calvert County that limit the size of retail stores. Total square-footage of the store would exceed the limit by 30 percent.

Greg Bowen, who heads the county planning office, said his office will consider the proposal.

"It's not on hold indefinitely," he said. "The county commission has asked the planning commission to defer action until they have a chance to look into (the proposal)."