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Survey indicates opposition to Wal-Mart Chamber polls members, and 57% are against store coming to town

More than half the members of the Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce surveyed this week would not welcome a Wal-Mart store in the community.

The Chamber called a members' and employees' session for Monday to solicit opinion, and 57 percent of the respondents opposed a Wal-Mart presence.

The company has not announced plans to build a store here, but a Rochester developer has made inquiries about available land, which has led to speculation about the retail giant from Bentonville, Ark.

About 140 people attended the session here in Morrison-Hayes Post 702, American Legion.

Executive Director Steve Havey said 27 percent favored a Wal-Mart store in the area, while 10 percent had not formed an opinion. One restaurateur at the meeting supported a big-box retailer's entry because he expected the store would increase traffic flow to his restaurant.

Havey, retired manager of the Kmart store here, said the survey showed that 83 percent of the respondents say a Wal-Mart store would hurt existing grocery stores.

He said a slightly smaller percentage foresaw trouble for Riverwalk Plaza, a strip mall along the Genesee River, with a Kmart store, a Tops market, a Radio Shack, a tanning salon, a submarine sandwich shop and a clothing store.

But 48 percent said a Wal-Mart would attract other businesses to the area, with 70 percent seeing an increase in the variety of merchandise available and more than half expecting a decline in quality, Havey said.

Wal-Mart would be a poor corporate citizen, said 64 percent of those who responded to the questionnaire, and Havey said 46 percent expect that a company store would improve the area's employment picture, while 38 percent said it would not.

Wal-Mart has made no direct contact in the area, and the real estate company from Rochester has asked, on behalf of its client, whether the Wellsville Country Club would be willing to sell or trade some of its land.

The developer has expressed interest in the former Wellsville Municipal Airport property on Bolivar Road, adjacent to some country club land.

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