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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ohio Town Plans Wal-Mart Vote; Chain Vows Fight

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- A citizens' group in a small SW Ohio city near the Indiana border has won permission to hold a referendum about Wal-Mart's efforts to build a huge new store. Wal-Mart is planning a court fight challenging the decision by the Hamilton County Board of Elections, which voted 3-0 Friday to allow the vote in Harrison. Information about the city is HERE.

Barring an unfavorable legal ruling, the vote is expected to take place in May, but could be set back to November. Wal-Mart's lawyers could be in court next week. The dispute over the supercenter has been percolating for months.

Harrison has agreed to allow a 185,000 square foot store. Wal-Mart orginally wanted a 205,000 square foot site, but settled a zoning dispute that included an agreement it would donate 20 acres for a park and help fund a bridge over Interstate 74 to ease expected traffic congestion. A citizens' group challenged the deal and collected 311 names for a referendum. If the courts stay out of the flap, this could turn into a showdown between those who see Wal-Mart as a positive force in the economy, and those who view the nation's largest company as a discount retailer who presence snuffs out competitors and kills local mom and pop enterprises.

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