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Wal-Mart backs down from Rotterdam site

A long-running legal and public relations battle between the town of Rotterdam and a national retailer ended quietly Monday with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announcement that it was abandoning efforts to build a super center near Burdeck and Thomson streets.

Among other things, it has become evident that Wal-Mart will be unable to obtain those permits and approvals necessary to permit it to use the subject premises as a Wal-Mart Supercenter, said Wal-Mart spokesman Philip Serghini, adding that the company looks forward to continuing to serve residents at their existing store on Altamont Avenue. "Wal-Mart has no other plans to bring a super center to Rotterdam, and will formally notify the town planning commission of its intent to withdraw its application in the coming days. "

Wal-Mart's announcement surprised town officials, but it was greeted as welcome news.

Councilman John Mertz felt vindicated, saying Wal-Mart must have come to the realization that the location was not suitable for their intended use. Mertz added that he was not against "big box" stores.

Supervisor Steven Tommasone said it was unfortunate that so much time and money had been wasted trying to place a super center at that site.

"Because of this situation, the town has spent tens of thousands defending itself," Tommasone said. "We've wasted a lot of precious time when we could have been getting the right kind of economic development that would add to the town's tax base."

Last fall, the town rezoned the area eyed by Wal-Mart, making the Burdeck corridor off-limits for the retailing giant. Wal-Mart sued, arguing that reclassifying the area was wrong because the area had been zoned for general business use initially.

State Supreme Court Justice Vincent J. Reilly Jr. agreed, overturning the town's zoning change.

In the meantime, the town council approved a 12-month building moratorium along the Burdeck Street-Route 7 corridor.

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