New Jersey to Wal-Mart: Your Look Sucks. Change It.

In Freehold Township, New Jersey, Wal-Mart’s has been forced to clamp down on its ugly, ugly decor:

The first thing shoppers at the new Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores on Route 537 might notice is what the stores look like.

Or rather, what they don’t look like.

There’s no red, white and blue exterior, sitting blunt and squarish on the landscape just like the thousands of other Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs that dot the globe. Instead, there’s a subdued red-brick facade, along with a low-slung roofline punctuated by dormer windows and hanging over a colonnaded walkway.

That’s because Freehold Township, which was founded in 1693, has a 4-year-old ordinance requiring that new commercial businesses be designed with a historical look in mind.

“Every Wal-Mart is a cookie cutter,” said Thomas Antus, the Freehold Township administrator. “We told them if you want to build this, this is what you have to do.”

We hate these sort of town council schemes; frankly, we’d be surprised if a government-sanctioned order of acceptable aesthetic values was even constitutional. Worse yet, it stagnates the look of a town and impedes innovative architectural development. Still — anything that prevents Wal-Mart from dropping another red, white and blue aluminum shack on the middle of another pretty American town pretty much has to get a grudging thumbs up.