Bel Air Wal-Mart meeting

Folks attending Thursday night's public meeting about the Emmorton Walmart proudly display their anti-Walmart signs as the meeting gets under way. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Homestead Publishing / July 19, 2012)

Hundreds of people flooded Patterson Mill High School's auditorium Thursday evening, the vast majority to protest the proposed Walmart on Plumtree Road.

Several attendees, who came despite the rain, carried small hand-held signs that read "No 9/24 Walmart."

A short line of people holding umbrellas led up to the school's main entrance, waiting to come in. The meeting started almost 30 minutes late to allow time for those who were still arriving.

Among those in attendance were Bel Air commissioner David Carey and Harford County Council members, including Jim McMahan, who represents the area.

"Like" exploreharford's Facebook page

Residents were almost hostile, shouting as Walmart representatives spoke, booing each one as they were introduced.

One woman shouted from the crowd, "We don't want the Walmart!"

Throughout the meeting, residents shouted expletives and other angry words.

One woman seemed to sum up what most people in the audience felt: "What if the residents don't freaking want you?"

When the crowd calmed down, an animated presentation on the proposed site was given, also inciting comments from people, including, "It's in Bel Air!" in response to the video claiming the site was in Abingdon.

The main entry of the store would be off Route 924 with two access points - one public, one for trucks - off Blue Spruce Drive.

The store would be approximately 185,000 square feet and look very similar to the store in Fallston.

A traffic light will be installed at the intersection, which will be at Route 924 and where the Bright Oaks community is.

Wes Guckert, president of The Traffic Group, explained his firm would conduct a traffic study of the area, but has not been completed yet because the project is still in the first phase of the development process.

Attendees were able to submit questions and comments throughout the meeting, and many addressed the room from a microphone near the auditorium's stage.

Most questions and comments dealt with traffic.

One question submitted and read by Walmart Community Affairs Director Nina Albert was this person heard that the store can bring in as many as 10,000 car trips per day and wanted to know if that was correct.

Guckert said it could be that much.

One Evergreen Heights residents said "traffic will be a major situation" for Route 924.

"Significant road changes need to be made to accommodate the traffic," he said, and Harford County taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for it.

Tom Kleine, Walmart's lawyer, said Walmart and not taxes, "as part of the site plan approval requirements," would fund the improvements.