No More Wal-Marts

Plain, sweet and simple: Calvert County is 26 miles long from the Route 260/Route 4 split north of Dunkirk to the bridge in Solomons.

If you stick a pin in the map anywhere in Calvert County and using a 26 mile-radius you will hit two Wal-Marts. Example: Dunkirk, Wal-Marts available in Prince Frederick and Bowie; Huntingtown, same Wal-Marts; Lusby, Wal-Marts in Prince Frederick and Lexington Park; Solomons, same as Lusby. We don't need another Wal-Mart or Ruby Tuesday in Calvert County, and we don't need a Wal-Mart every 10 to 15 miles anywhere in this country.

If Wal-Mart is so intent on building another store in the Southern Maryland region, I would recommend one on Route 301 just south (toward Waldorf) of Upper Marlboro. If anyone has traveled the area between Route 5 and Central Avenue, you will see numerous housing developments in progress. But Wal-Mart doesn't want to build in Prince George's for several reasons, namely the expenses associated with infrastructure and the living wage in that county -- items that Wal-Mart prefers not to pay.

I believe the issue related to "big-box" stores should not reside solely with the county commissioners but should be placed on a referendum vote to be determined by the public. The county belongs to the public, and the public should make the final determination on its growth. The maximum size of any store should not exceed 100,000 square feet. This would resolve the issue about the conversion of the Wal-Mart in Prince Frederick into a Super Wal-Mart and the future development of similar stores.

Does Prince Frederick need five grocery stores -- Safeway, Giant, Food Lion, Super Wal-Mart and Shoppers Food Warehouse (to be built)? Can the demographics support five stores? Probably not. So what happens several years down the road when one or more closes? You'll have the same problem and concerns as the empty big box.

Does Dunkirk really need three full-scale grocery stores? No. Could we use some upscale restaurants, such as Outback [Steakhouse], Bertucci's, Olive Garden, or some specialty stores? Yes. Are these in the plans? Who knows. Communication in this county stinks. When information is released to the public it appears to be too late to do anything about it.

Before the county commissioners decide on the big-box issue, I wish they would . . . canvass at least 15 percent of the population to determine if the people of Calvert County want these type of stores in their neighborhoods.

Michael Smith