Walmart is the world’s largest public corporation, profiting $476.294 billion in sales as of 2014, but that doesn’t mean it can open up shop anywhere it wants to without hurdles.
A sort of David and Goliath story emerged as the small John Hanson Montessori School celebrates the decision by the Prince George’s Zoning Hearing examiner that denied a Special Exception and Variance to developers for a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter that would be adjacent to the school.
“Six people appeared on behalf of Walmart; they came big and ready to fight,” said Macy Nelson, attorney for the Montessori school parents opposing the project.
Nelson, along with parents and many residents in the area, is ecstatic for what they see as a victory.
The fight against the Oxon Hill Wal-Mart has been ongoing for several years however, Wal-Mart remains adamant about locating there. Back in 2012, students and parents rallied against the project in front of the school, chanting, “No Wal-Mart, save our community!”
It appears the community has not let down their guard now that the decision has been handed down, because as they see it, the fight has just begun.
“This project is simply not suitable to be next door to our school,” stated Nicole Nelson who has children attending John Hanson.
Wal-Mart remains confident that a store at this location would be beneficial to the community.
“Our store can serve as an anchor for the vision for Oxon Hill Road as a retail destination, helping to draw additional shoppers to the area and increasing the local tax base,” said Wal-Mart spokesperson Amanda Henneberg.
She also shared that the company is reviewing its next steps after the decision.
There are however, some residents in the Oxon Hill area who are not upset about the potential Wal-Mart.
“Jobs are hard to come by these days,” said Sherine Watts, an Oxon Hill resident.
“If this Wal-Mart can employ some of my struggling friends and family, then I am all for it, the students at the school will have some where to work after they graduate,” said Watts with passion.
“A store this size will bring strangers around kids,” Nelson said. As he explained it, the store’s parking lot will be very close to the school’s playground.
“A mixed use project would be better,” suggested Nelson, who has been lobbying in the District of Columbia to change the zoning ordinance to restrict big box stores.
The Oxon Hill area has experienced an economic boom in the advent of the National Harbor development nearby, so it is not too outlandish for Wal-Mart to see itself as necessary.
“The store will provide some 300 jobs and residents will benefit from these jobs and affordable shopping,” stated Wal-Mart spokesperson Amanda Henneberg.