The Wal-Mart effect: Build it, and THEY will come !


Several years ago the political lines in the Belmont area were pretty well divided over growth issues. Type of Growth, Rate of Growth, Vision of Community, Sense of Belonging, and the kicker — Property Rights.

The mill community mentality, taken from the farms and hills of the early twentieth century learned young’uns the value of owning property if you “cud git ahold a sum”. Gaston County divided itself along the lines of the “Haves”, and the “Have Nots”.

The funny thing during the debate process (some called it “steamrolling”) was that nobody discussed the attendant collateral damage of big box development.

The collateral damage is the “flow-through” of increased traffic that these types of development brings to an area. Increased malicious mischief, vandalism, theft, and larceny are the damages.


(Belmont Police photo published in Gazette)

This series is not just “kids with nothing to do”. It is not necessarily gang-related either.

Belmont Police Chief David James, always on the lookout for more money to increase the size of his force, commented on the potential of these issues in the original series of debates. Of course, his eye was on the development of his department — remember we built that grand new police department building on Chronicle Street with an eye on the future – (re: bigger than needed) 

The article in the Gazette about the recent rash of auto break-ins, noted the neighborhoods where these occurred. “Build It, and They will come !” Works for both good and bad.

What can the community do? Well, besides call the police?

Be vigilant in your travels through town. Not paranoid, just observant.

With a lot of new people in the area, new homes, bigger dogs (which always seem to come with the type of folk who want to make some kind of “statement”), fancy-schmanzy cars, we need to try to reach out and make a community that is larger than the great walls that have been erected around several of the subdivisions.


Community Watch efforts are always good. The Neighborhood Preservation portion of the new Land Use Plan, can and should encourage these community efforts. Maybe Chief James would seek out funding opportunities to support Community Watch and Community Policing efforts.  Another idea is to encourage police officers to live in the community. Many of our recent police recruits don’t live here, why should they care what they see as they are driving out of town at the end of their shift?

What efforts are being made to encourage/require public safety personnel to be active members of the community? Granted, there are a few who do live here, but as the force grows, what is being done?

The big deal a few years ago was to allow officers to drive their vehicle home — helps as a deterrent to crime. Problem is, We have never seen those cars in our various neighborhoods, unless there is a called-in issue.  

Presence, vigilance, and connectivity help keep communities safe for everyone. Maybe the police department can use some of their funding from us to do more along those lines rather than buying more stuff…