Homer says 'no' to big box stores

Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Faced with the prospect of a Fred Meyer store opening in town, the Homer City Council voted Monday to ban, at least temporarily, construction of stores larger than 40,000 square feet.

The measure passed on a 4-3 vote. The council also created a task force to draw up standards for large stores.

Fred Meyer is in negotiations to buy undeveloped land in Homer for a 70,000-square-foot store. Currently, the town's largest stores are about 20,000 square feet.

Box store critics say the city should follow the lead of towns in the Lower 48 that have taken steps to protect existing small businesses and civic character. The land sought by Fred Meyer is part of an area that has been eyed as a potential town center.

Opponents of the size limit said a big store would draw more business to Homer. They warned that a big store might be built outside city limits, thereby underselling Homer businesses without providing sales tax revenue to the city.

The council will revisit the store-size question after the task force completes its work in the coming months, said Planning Commissioner Bill Smith.

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