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    Wal-Mart Initiative May Go on Ballot

    Contra Costa, Calif. -- A referendum supporting large-scale supermarkets in unincorporated Contra Costa County has qualified for the ballot, elections officials say.

    Contra Costa, Calif. -- A referendum supporting large-scale supermarkets in unincorporated Contra Costa County has qualified for the ballot, elections officials say.

    The initiative drive, sponsored by Wal-Mart, produced 40,627 signatures July 2. County elections officials validated 30,714 of those by Wednesday, about 4,000 more than required to qualify for the ballot.

    "We knew that we had more than enough to qualify for the ballot," said Amy Hill, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart.

    Now, it's up to county supervisors to place the initiative on the county ballot. It could go to voters as early as next fall. If passed, the initiative would repeal the 90,000-square-foot limit on stores that sell grocery items.

    In a 3-0 vote, the Board of Supervisors imposed an ordinance applying to all new stores that sell groceries on more than 5 percent of their floor space. Supervisor Gayle Uilkema abstained from the issue because she owns stock in Wal-Mart.

    The retail giant maintains the limit prevents the company from building supercenters in unincorporated Contra Costa.

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