Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wal-Mart Could Turn off the Quiet

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wal-Mart Could Turn off the Quiet

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods

CRESCENT CITY -- Clifton Road was quiet Tuesday morning.

The closest thing to a traffic jam on the two-lane road off U.S. 17 was what happened when five children came out of a house, hopped on their bikes, streamers dangling from the handlebars, and rode in circles.

Cows grazed in a pasture down the road.

James Melton, 65, and his older sister, Alberta, stood in front of another house, on land that their family has called home since the 1940s, trying to explain how they think a Wal-Mart food distribution center will change not only their street but also two Florida counties.

As if on cue, a rooster across the road crowed.

"I love that sound," Alberta said with a smile.

It could become a sound of Clifton Road's past, replaced by the roar of Wal-Mart trucks.

Last week the Putnam County Commission voted to rezone a 235-acre potato farm on the road, about 3 miles south of Crescent City, to allow for the massive center.

If it's built -- and several citizens groups plan to put up a fight -- the center will forever change the area.

That much people agree upon.

The debate is whether it will be for the better or the worse.

Proponents point to the jobs -- an estimated 600 at $12 per hour -- and estimated $760,000 in yearly property taxes it will bring to Putnam County.

Opponents point to the traffic it will bring to U.S. 17, running north through Putnam County and south through Volusia.

As Michael Woodward, a lawyer representing a citizens group opposing the center, told the planning commission: "Good project, wrong location."

The center is expected to add at least 1,100 tractor-trailer trips per day. And that figure could go as high as 5,000.

That's an average of one truck every 17 seconds.

And, as of today, this is from a small road, one end of it still unpaved, that feeds into a rural two-lane highway, more than 25 miles from the nearest access to Interstate 95. …

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