Wal-Mart said eyeing Sharpsburg Pike land

May 23, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Wal-Mart is considering developing commercial land off Sharpsburg Pike, south of Hagerstown, a county planning official said.

Last year, the county rezoned 29.53 acres there to allow a big-box store or similar retail use. The land, near Colonel Henry K. Douglas Drive, is owned by Manny Shaool's family under the name Washco Arnett Farms LLC.

"It's no big secret that Wal-Mart's looking at that site," Tim Lung, chief senior planner with the Washington County Planning Department, said Thursday.

Lung said Wal-Mart representatives have talked to the planning department a few times. The last time was several months ago.

More current discussions between Wal-Mart and the county are about engineering and what would be needed to build on the land, Lung said.


The county's planning commission, which must approve development plans, probably won't see a site plan until other issues are worked out, he said.

Rhoda Washington, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart in the Maryland region, would not discuss talks the retail chain might have had about that property.

"As always, we are committed to our customers and where customers demand dictates, we are exploring the feasibility of sites in the County," she wrote in an e-mail. "However, currently, we do not have anything specific to provide at this time."

Manny Shaool declined to comment this week.

At Washco's request, the county rezoned the 29.53 acres last year from Highway Interchange 2 to Highway Interchange 1, a more intensive use. The county's planning staff had recommended against making the change.

County records say the parcel's remaining 3.71 acres already were zoned Highway Interchange 1.

Washco talked to county officials four years ago about a combined residential and commercial project at the site, according to planning records.

Washco proposed building 300 apartment units, 22 townhomes and nine commercial lots.

Hagerstown currently has a Wal-Mart Supercenter at the Centre at Hagerstown, at the city's western edge.

In 2000, a development company proposed building a Wal-Mart Supercenter along Edgewood Drive in Hagerstown, but the city's planning commission denied the plan.

A Washington County Circuit judge denied an appeal by the applicant, Wyatt Development.

Opponents, including Funkstown residents and elected officials, feared a large increase in traffic.

Lung said a Wal-Mart representative has submitted a traffic study for the Arnett Farm area.

A sketch plan Lung said was included in the traffic study appears to show a big-box store just south of Colonel Henry K. Douglas Drive, as well as other commercial buildings.

The plan also shows a proposed road running parallel to and west of Sharpsburg Pike and a relocated Rench Road.

Earl Wassen, who has lived on Rench Road since 1978 and is monitoring what development might come, said the possibility of a Wal-Mart in the area worries him.

A second local Wal-Mart would alter the neighborhood and could hurt local businesses, he said.

The Herald-Mail Articles