A Chiefland, Fla., business owner told city commissioners at the Jan. 11 meeting that Wal-Mart is hurting his business.
Renee Pichet, owner of Chiefland RV Park, said that Wal-Mart’s practice of allowing RVs to park overnight is causing him to rethink $100,000 worth of renovation and expansion plans he had for his park, according to the Chiefland Citizen.
“Wal-Mart’s great,” he said,” but they became campground-friendly.”
Pichet told commissioners he often sees eight to 10 RVs parked in Wal-Mart’s parking lot, only to return to his own park and find eight to 10 empty sites.
Teresa Barron, vice mayor of the town of 2,000 located 30 miles west of Gainesville, told Pichet, “ I, personally, don’t feel comfortable asking Wal-Mart to do that because it’s their own private property. I feel they have that right.”
But Pichet said, “Wal-Mart told me, ‘Pass an ordinance, and we’ll abide by it.’”
City Attorney Norm Fugate, later in the discussion, told the commissioners, “If you want to regulate it, you can certainly do that.” Though he added he hadn’t had adequate time to check into the matter.
Building and Zoning Director Bill Hammond said it would be hard to enforce such an ordinance.
“You’re not going to be able to single out just Wal-Mart,” he said.
Currently, the city allows campers to park for 24 hours with the property owner’s permission.
Wal-Mart’s website says many of their locations allow overnight parking to enhance the “one-stop shopping experience.” Though it also states that it’s left to the discretion of the store managers, and that the stores usually comply with local ordinances.
One audience member told the commission he understood where Pichet was coming from, stating that it’s hard for a business owner, who pays taxes, registration fees and has a vested interest in the community, to sit back while a large corporation takes business from you.
Mayor Teal Pomeroy told Pichet he would get with Hammond on the issue and get back to Picket on it.
Commissioner Frank Buie said, “Mr. Mayor, I think that’s a good idea.”