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Planners to discuss Wal-Mart

November 28, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Planners to discuss Wal-Mart



A controversial plan to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter along Edgewood Drive in Hagerstown is scheduled to be discussed at the City Planning Commission in City Hall at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The public will be allowed to speak on the proposal during the meeting, said Commission Chairman Douglas Wright Jr.

He said it is unusual for the public to be allowed to speak at such a hearing.

"But if people are interested enough to give input, we want to hear what it is," Wright said.

The seven-member Planning Commission could vote on the proposal Wednesday, but probably won't, Wright said.

"I think we're going to mull this over. ... It's less than 50 percent likely that we'll vote," Wright said.

He said he did not know when the commission will vote on the proposal if a vote is not taken Wednesday.

Planning Commission approval of the plan is needed before the city will issue building permits for the project.

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Wyatt Development Co., of Aiken, S.C. proposes to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter plus another retail building on about 31.5 acres in Hagerstown near the Funkstown line.

The Wal-Mart would be about 200,000-square-feet, and the other building would be about 30,000-square-feet.

Some Funkstown residents and town elected officials have adamantly opposed the Wal-Mart, saying their town can't handle the increased traffic it would attract.

A City Planning Department recommendation on the proposed development is expected to be made public at the Wednesday meeting, said Planning Director Ric Kautz.

Earlier this month, City Engineer Bruce Johnston said he probably would recommend the commission approve the plan if the development company sets aside about $340,000 for Funkstown road and intersection improvements.

Johnston said the $340,000 would pay to put a traffic signal at the one-lane bridge in Funkstown, extend some turn lanes, and widen parts of some roads in and around downtown Funkstown.

Funkstown elected officials have opposed those changes, but Johnston said if the money were set aside the money it would be available to pay for the work if Funkstown officials change their minds.

The proposed development has renewed discussion about the long-discussed Funkstown bypass, which is now being called Southern Boulevard. Such a road would go north of Funkstown, diverting traffic that now goes through its downtown area.

Hagerstown's City Council and the Washington County Commissioners recently agreed to create a committee to study such a road.

The Wal-Mart proposal contains no plans for a bypass or Southern Boulevard.

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