Residents oppose plans for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Frederick County -- Gazette.Net


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Some residents of the Worman’s Mill subdivision off Monocacy Boulevard in Frederick fear plans for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter near their neighborhood will worsen an already growing traffic nightmare in the area.

They see no reason for Wal-Mart to close its existing smaller store on Monocacy Boulevard and open a new larger store 500 feet away at the northwest corner of Md. 26 and Monocacy Boulevard on property where a Wonder Book and Video warehouse also sit.

But the residents admit that it is tough to fight the nation’s largest retail giant.

“Living in Worman’s Mill, of course we are concerned about traffic congestion on [Md.] 26,” John Stephens said in an email. “The most serious problem, however, will be the continued Walmartization if Walmart’s greedy proposal to build a superstore on Monocacy Boulevard is approved. It is time for us to stand up to Walmart and tell them that enough is enough.”

Plans for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter were unveiled to the residents of Worman’s Mill — a large residential development with some 1,500 residents off of Monocacy Boulevard and Md. 26 — at several meetings this summer.

Plans call for 190,000-square feet of retail space, including a full-service grocery store that will sell meat, poultry, baked goods, delicatessen items, frozen foods and dairy products. The smaller Wal-Mart on Monocacy Boulevard includes many of the same retail items, but its grocery section is limited.

Frederick already has a Wal-Mart Supercenter on Guilford Drive off of Md. 85, or Buckeystown Pike.

Walmart hopes to open a second superstore in 2013, according to planning department documents.

Pam Reppert, a planner with the city of Frederick, said in an interview Tuesday that planning department officials are currently reviewing the plans for the new store. They are waiting for the Maryland State Highway Adminstration to decide if it will approve Walmart’s request for a direct entrance to the store from Md. 26, she said.

Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the SHA, said Monday that the developer, Matan Companies of Frederick, has asked for direct access from Md. 26, but no final decision has been made.

“We’re still working with them,” Gischlar said. “We’re requiring them to do a traffic impact study. We’ve been in communication with them. It’s still preliminary with us. It’s still early.”

James Matan with Matan Companies did not return repeated phone calls. Calls and emails to Walmart’s home office in Bentonville, Ark., were also not returned.

When the Wal-Mart Supercenter is built, it will face direct competition from Giant Food in The Shops of Monocacy on Kingfisher Drive off Md. 26 and Monocacy Boulevard, and the new Wegmans supermarket in the Clemson Corner Shopping Center, also off Md. 26.

“Over our 76-year history, Giant Food has been committed to offering shoppers across Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Delaware the highest level of quality, value, and service,” Jamie Miller, a spokesman with Giant Food, said in an email responding to a query about Walmart’s plans. “In addition, we have a long legacy of supporting the communities we’re privileged to serve, especially in the areas of hunger, education, and health and wellness. ... We look forward to serving Frederick for many years to come.”

Jo Natale, director of media relations with Wegmans, said in an interview Tuesday that company officials expect sales to take a hit when the new Walmart opens.

“Whenever a retailer selling the same products opens, they have an impact on our sales,” Natale said. “To what extent, we don’t know.”

But Natale said they have no intention of making any changes to the store to compete with Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart’s expansion off Md. 26 is even less welcome to the residents of Worman’s Mill.

They say the traffic generated by the nearby Clemson Corner Shopping Center, which opened last year with Wegmans, Lowe’s and Marshalls, and the new Market Square, a mixed-use development of homes, restaurants, and businesses, is already a nightmare.

“I think most residents in [Worman’s Mill] have concerns about the potential traffic concerns [with the] development of Clemson Corner and Market Square,” Ron Mallow of Worman’s Mill said in an email. “With the possible addition of a Super Wal-Mart that will attract hundreds of [cars], it seems unrealistic to cram so much commercial development in next to a residential area. Do we want to become Fairfax [Va.] 2?”

Both Market Square and Clemson Corner are at the corner of Md. 26 and Worman’s Mill Road within the Frederick city limits. Md. 26 merges into Route 15 south, a heavily-traveled interstate in the northeastern portion of Frederick County.

“Because this is the Walmart company, if they want a larger store 500 feet away, there is no legal or logical way to prevent it,” Bruce Champion of Worman’s Mill said in an email. “All we can hope or is relief from traffic by their cooperation to relieve it.”

Victoria Myers and her husband, William Myers, moved to Worman’s Mill in 2007. Victoria said she never dreamed that in the five years she has lived in the development, traffic congestion on Md. 26 would become a way of life.

“We implore the city to think about how they are ruining this area with the burgeoning development,” she said in an email. “We feel as though no thought has been given to infrastructure — just build, build, build. We pay both county and city taxes and this is what we get for our money, over development and endless traffic jams.”

John Stephens just wants Wal-Mart to leave Frederick altogether.

“[Md.] 26 is already overburdened and a new superstore will put an unnecessary load on both Monocacy Boulevard and [Md.] 26,” he said in an e-mail. “Wal-Mart should be forced to remain in their current location which could be expanded if they deem it necessary. My first choice, of course, would be for them just to go away.”

sgreenfield@gazette.net.