Chanting “no Wal-Mart, save our community,” John Hanson Montessori School students, their parents and Oxon Hill community members held a rally Thursday evening to protest plans to build the super store.
Roughly 40 adults and children attended the rally, held at the proposed site on Oxon Hill Road and Md. 210. They worry that building a Super Wal-Mart less than 100 yards from the school would lead to increased traffic, and would pose safety and health concerns, said Nicole Nelson, vice president of the school’s parent-teacher-student association.
“I would be devastated if it gets built,” said Harriet Richmond of Fort Washington, whose son is in the sixth grade at the school. “It will create so many safety issues and wreak havoc on our school.”
The Prince George’s County Planning Board approved building the Wal-Mart in June. Parents appealed the approval in July, and a hearing before the county’s District Council is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday.
Kimberly Jones of Fort Washington filed a request to postpone the hearing on Friday. She claims that the Planning Board failed to notify she and 90 other parents of the hearing.
Parents cite health concerns highlighted in a report by the Prince George’s County Health Department. In the February report, released by the health department’s Environmental Engineering Program, the county said an increase in traffic at the site “could impair cognitive development in children.”
The report also said that there is an “emerging body of scientific evidence indicating that fine particular air pollution from traffic is associated with childhood asthma.”
The Peterson Cos., a Virginia-based developer, is calling the project the Potomac Business Park. In addition to a 101,000-square-foot Wal-Mart, the development would include office space and a fire station.
The Wal-Mart is slated to open in summer 2013, according to the company’s website.
Taylor Chess, the company’s senior vice president, wrote in an email to The Gazette that The Peterson Cos. and Wal-Mart will continue to dialogue with the adjacent property owner to address their concerns — as they have throughout the development process.
“We look forward to introducing the first new significant retail project in this area of the Oxon Hill corridor in over 15 years, which will result in significant job creation, a state of the art fire station, a new entrance to Oxon Hill High School, improved pedestrian infrastructure and expanded retail offerings for area residents,” he said.
School board member Edward Burroughs III (Dist. 8), whose district includes John Hanson Montessori and Oxon Hill High, said that as it stands now, he has a lot of reservations about the project.
“There will be a large influx of customers and right there is a playground,” Burroughs said. “It will be a nightmare for the school to keep students safe during recess.”