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Another loss for a ‘big box’ developer

Developers who hoped to build a 184,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter in Abingdon did not have “vested rights” for the project even though the town planning commission may have approved by default a final site plan, under a ruling last week by Circuit Judge C. Randall Lowe.

The decision means the developers – if they want to proceed – must seek a special use permit as required under a new town requirement for buildings larger than 50,000 square feet.  The decision echoes the holding of the Supreme Court of Virginia in a Blacksburg “big box” case.

Abingdon Town Attorney Deborah Isenhour said the ruling “further reinforces the ability of all local government entities to direct growth and carefully plan for future development.”

The proposed Wal-Mart had drawn stiff opposition.  The site in question was near Exit 14 on I-81 and close to two residential subdivisions.

By Peter Vieth

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