Griggs plans to ask supervisors to consider banning big retailers

Prince William Board of County Supervisor Ruth Griggs, R-Occoquan, next week will ask the board to begin considering a zoning text amendment that would prohibit large retail chains of more than 60,000 square feet from moving to the county.

Under the amendment, big box stores of more than 25,000 square feet would require a special use permit.

The proposed resolution would limit the size of a retail facility, require smaller facilities’ architecture to fit in with neighboring communities and require that the retail owner find new tenants or remove the structure when it is vacant for extended periods.

The idea is to keep retailers from building large stores in Prince William and then abandoning them, Griggs said.

During the meeting Griggs gave an example of a Rockville, Md., suburb that prohibits stores larger than 60,000 square feet, according to a December 2002 article from the Virginia Business Journal.

The ban was put in place in the Maryland suburb in 2000 after a local developer tried to demolish an old strip mall and replace it with another large retailer.

However, some residents have protested such measures because they say government should not be allowed to control free enterprise.

The proposed resolution is expected to be voted on at the Tuesday meeting.