Read Past Columns:

by Jack Lynch, Editor


Grave of Jacob Pfauw, Birth of the Faw Brethren Churches

Commentary from Frederick News Post, July 15, 2012: "Unconvinced by optimism of (Downtown Frederick, MD) hotel report" Link

Commentary from Frederick News Post, May 27, 2012: "Charter rule (Frederick County, MD) will be no better than today's government" Link

Birely Tannery 1760 - 1960, Carroll Creek in Frederick

City Limits

Discovering the Descendants of Abraham Faw

Finding a Two Hundred and Eighty Year Old House Ruin Admidst Suburban Sprawl?

To Save a Stream - Abraham Faw Run

Adolphus Fearhake of Frederick, Maryland

Plan Maryland

Bulldozer Blaine Young

Remembering my Revolutionary Ancestor - Abraham Faw

Why Not the Best?

A Tree Grows in Frederick for Anne Frank

The Tragedy of Kai Hagen

Frederick County's Gunslinger Slate, Fire from the Lip, shoot from the Hip!

A Visit to Tangier Island

Historic Snowfall, Road Salt, Watershed Protection and the Chesapeake Bay

Will It be Progress or Retrenchment in Frederick County?

Is This the End of Frederick Smart Growth?

A Series of Links Follows from the Air It Out with George political commentary website:

Chesapeake Blues on Tangier Island

July 4, 2008

Mass Burn

Appalachian Blues on Hillbilly Highway

Buying a Congressional Seat in Maryland's First District - Coming to the Sixth District?

Democratic Candidates on American Foreign Policy

All the King's Horses!

Campaign in Song: Bushie Head Out the Mixing Bowl

Democratic Campaign's Vertical Treadmill on Space Mission

A Bit of Olympic Political History

Obama for the Chesapeake Bay?

Politics is Personal: Repeat Three Times

Prediction: Bad News for Obama, The End of Post-Racial Politics

American Exceptionalism on the World Stage

Obama Speaking on March 18th - Political Equinox

Yee Haw! On to Pennsyltuckey!

American Blackface: Tragic Octoroon

Key to Success - Lesson for Frederick:

Republicrats Yes, Middlecrats No

Too Many Promises ...Loaves and Fishes

Identity Black and White in Frederick

Mashup 1968 - 2008: On to Texas, Out with Clinton?

Fat Tuesday!

Symbol, Sense and Substance

Eight More Years

The Dollar Bubble

Judging a Candidate By Their Website

Baby, We Were Born to Bun!

The subsequent links are again from older dates of The Frederick Citizen:

A Rememebrance: Beijing Spring, Interrupted

County Officials and Public Communications

The Snallygaster in Frederick County

Fourth Anniversary of the Frederick Citizen

Frederick City Growth

American Promised Land - American All

Black Frederick and Matters of Race and Politics

Dumping on the Chesapeake Bay

Common Sense Writ Large

The Next Mayor of Frederick

Democracy in Action!

Ottawa: About a Greenbelt, Transit Oriented Development and Government FiatCountering Alderman Imhoff's Growth Beliefs

An Alternate View of Frederick CityGrowth Policy

An Acorn in the Bucket

Monocacy River Part II

Monocacy River Part I

New Market Regional Plan Affirmation

43 More!

Fish and Life

Talking Trash

Strike Three, Smoking Out!

A Green Fund Too Far, Or Not Far Enough?

Growth Back to the Future

Revisiting an Iraq War Opinion Four Years Later

Second Anniversary of the Frederick Citizen

Unrepentant Cady

Sour Grapes and Fine Wine

There's Hope for Good Government

The Democratic Fifth

The County of Feel Good

Hypocrisy Indeed

The Alliance

The Growth Machine Slate

"The Issues are Bipartisan" - David Gray

The Importance of Jan Gardner's Campaign

Form Follows Function

Route 15 Scenic Walmart

Frederick Blue

The Curtain Rises

Housing Growth, Not Smart Growth, Not Progressive Planning

Understanding Lennie Thompson

Frederick's Tale of Two Rabbi's

Wellhead Protection

Make Believe, or Desperate Duncan?

A Progressive Concept Approved...then Defeated!

Hog Wild

Anniversary of the Frederick Citizen

We're No Gwinnett County

"An Election, Not a Selection...!"  Indeed!

A Potpourri of Thoughts and Issues...

Now That the Smoke Has Cleared


How am I to Decide on Mayor of Frederick?

Doomed To Repeat It

Frantic Orthodoxy

Stealth Candidate

Another Perfect Day for Bananafish

This Summer Election

Building Issues

Just Powers

Death Defying Election?

In the Heat

Horse Sense for Frederick County?

Kudzu and Million Dollar Homes

Bartlett's Ozone Trip

Let the Games Begin

Blood in the Water

Coffee Klatch

Archaeology in Frederick

Bizarro World

Mr. O'Malley's March

Playing All the Cards

Who are Your Friends New Market?

Mixed Use

Beijing Spring, Interrupted

Passion, People and Politics in Frederick City

Millennium project

A Frederick Leader of Distinction

APFO Under Attack

State Lands Sale

Frederick Water Sourcing

Frederick Water










The Frederick Citizen Logo

March 27, 2013

A Tale of Two Walmarts

by Jack Lynch

The era of the big box store has presented a conundrum for many places planning, the consumer convenience and pricing have driven a wild success in repeating these retail locations across the country, and they grow increasingly larger in size and offerings, and in recent years have driven down the commercial success and increased competition with retail grocery chains which typical operate on already thin margins.

This situation presents itself in Frederick along Route 26 on the north side of the city. A large but previously routine size Walmart was built less than a decade ago south of Route 26 and has been quite successful and its location and impacts generally favorable, although the promise during development review that the expanses of parking surfaces would not cause excessive storm water runoff issues has resulted in an unplanned, large perennial pond on city parkland below the location.  It has an informal name, spoken often with amusement, as a sort of developer’s folly.  But even that effect is fairly benign and attractive ancillary result of the building.

walmart map

Now, Walmart insists that it requires a massive new building on the immediate north side of Route 26 to expand to grocery operations.  Oh, and plans suggest some townhomes overlooking the rear parking areas, one can imagine grilling out and your deck and watching shoppers come and go, but at least the charcoal will be handy to purchase. In addition, the traffic mitigations are really more intrusions upon an already congested area, with a request for a Route 26 entrance.  Worse, the planners and city have already approved a text amendment that the developer suggested for reduction in parking mitigation of green space and runoff requirements in order to increase parking and reduce costs.

A bit of a battle also rages in Harford County in Maryland, where a larger store is sought and the County Executive requested Walmart not build a large site.  Walmart response was negative and has called proposed legislative reviews sought to be added by the county an assault on business.

Critics of these big box retailers have been varied in their complaints.  But one that stands out for Frederick is the conundrum of what happens to an abandoned big box once sitting empty and discarded by its former owner.  The answer has often been a decade or more of decay and a scar on the municipal landscape that cannot find use real useful purpose.  There was a time when large antique operations loved these massive cavern spaces, but that business seems to have been in decline in the era of eBay and youth whose electronic life does not seem to take note of old items as valued heritage.

So Frederick seems likely to stand for a double wallop in these regards.  A large, empty, useless space with a mothballed structure and the neighborhood impacts, on top of an already difficult transition on the north side to a variety of dense retail complexes that offer few smart growth benefits.

I am not the greatest fan of Walmart; it serves its purpose as retail for me, though with some regret and concern for the loss of things like real hardware stores and more small business opportunities and the reduction of competition. But I am also not its greatest critic, as any community welcomes the lower wage retail jobs for folks who find them a welcome fit to their employment.  And while a private business has its place and purpose, it is the place and purpose of government to regulate the location, impacts and accommodations of the business needs and the residents quality of life.

Why do our leaders bend over backwards to change the rules for one property?  That is poor planning.  Yes, sometimes creating exceptions and allowing a change may make economic sense, but not when it tags on an albatross of built and likely useless previous development. And what becomes of the strip of retail stores cattycorner to the new expanded Walmart if the grocery competition drives away a now marginally successful grocery?