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Wal-Mart project gets final approval in Pa. township

March 08, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - On a 5-0 vote with little comment Monday, the Washington Township Supervisors gave their final blessings to the biggest commercial venture in the township's history - Rouzerville Commons anchored by Wal-Mart and Lowe's big-box stores.

Construction on the project east of Waynesboro could begin as early as next month, or as soon as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection gives a permit to proceed to Echo Real Estate/Development of Pittsburgh, the builder of the complex.

"We'll start digging as soon as we get the (DEP) permit," Bruce Haney, Echo vice president of development, said Monday after the supervisors' vote.

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DEP has to approve Echo's plan to bridge Red Run, a small stream at the entrance to the shopping center on Pa. 16 across from Yingling's Garage at 11508 Buchanan Trail East.

Haney's company will do all the site work and landscaping on the 47-acre tract. It will build the roads and parking lots, install the public utilities and the storm drain system.

The company will build the pads that the 173,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store and 117,000 square-foot Lowe's building will occupy.

Wal-Mart and Lowe's will construct their own buildings, Haney said. Both could be open as soon as late 2005 or early 2006, he said.

Haney's crews also will build the strip of seven smaller stores that will complete the shopping center. He said he has signed leases for four of the seven, including one for a sit-down restaurant. He didn't elaborate.

Several residents raised questions on the project before the supervisors voted.

John Gorman of Blue Ridge Summit acknowledged that his appeal to Haney was being made at the "11th hour." He asked the developer to consider changing the design of the two big stores in such a way that Haney would be "proud to have them in your own neighborhood."

Gorman urged the developer to make the local center a model of what can be done if a developer truly cares about how a project fits in with its surroundings.

He suggested peaked instead of flat roofs and red brick so the project is more pleasing to the eye.

"Put yourself in our shoes, Mr. Haney," Gorman said.

Haney said that while he was "very sensitive to the comments," his hands are tied because Wal-Mart and Lowe's build their own stores.

He said the parts of the project for which he is responsible will reflect concerns expressed by the supervisors, including extra landscaping, sidewalk and pedestrian areas and storm water drainage systems that exceed what is required by township regulations.

Pat Heefner of Buena Vista Boulevard told the supervisors there was no need for them to lose any sleep over their decision in 2003 when they rezoned the farmland that paved the way for the Wal-Mart project.

Once Wal-Mart officials decided they were going to come to Washington Township they were going to come no matter what the township did, Heefner said.

Supervisor Stewart McCleaf, who made the motion that gave Haney final approval for the project, said he resented Heefner's remarks.

"Eighty-four percent of the people in this community said they wanted Wal-Mart to come here," he said. The supervisors did the people's bidding, he said.

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