BY BRYNA ZUMER, firstname.lastname@example.org
5:50 PM EDT, July 5, 2012
The Walmart store planned for Plumtree Road south of Bel Air could be 23,000 square feet larger than the Walmart that opened in Fallston last year, according to a plan submitted to Harford County this week.
It would also give Harford County three Walmarts within an 8-mile area, and four total in the county.
A concept plan submitted Tuesday to Harford County's planning and zoning department shows a building of "approximately" 185,706 square feet on 16.74 acres at the intersection of Plumtree and Route 924.
A parking lot with about the same footprint as the store is shown south of the store, with access to Route 924. The store will be parallel to Plumtree and the parking lot, with the front of the store facing the lot.
The plan also shows an extension of Blue Spruce Drive from its current terminus in the Bel Air South commercial area north to Plumtree Road along the west side of the proposed Walmart parking lot, thus joining Bel Air South Parkway and Plumtree via Blue Spruce. There is a 50-foot wide right of way for Blue Spruce, according to the plan.
The developer of the site would also have almost 9 acres reserved along Route 24 for other commercial development, as well as 2.3 acres in the southwest corner of the property for a storm pond outlet, according to the plan. Another 2.8 acres between the parking lot and the Bel Air South commercial area would also be reserved for a future commercial use.
The Walmart in Fallston, which just opened in March 2011, has 157,435 square feet, according to the planning department. The Wegmans grocery, which opened last September near an existing Walmart in Abingdon, is about 130,000 square feet.
Development review chief Moe Davenport said he did not know any more about the Walmart plan for Plumtree and said he has not received any documents besides the concept plan.
He did say the existing Walmart on Constant Friendship Boulevard in Abingdon is smaller than Fallston's. In addition to those two, Walmart has a full-service store in Aberdeen.
The Constant Friendship store, which is 113,000 square feet and was built in 1993, according to tax records, does not offer groceries, under a deal it signed with the developer of the property when the store was first built; however, it is not clear how long that covenant was in force or if it is still valid. The Aberdeen store also was completed in 1993 and was later expanded to its present 207,300 square feet, according to tax records. That expansion brought a full service grocery section to the store, but not before a competing grocer sued to block the expansion, ultimately losing in court.
For the proposed Plumtree store, legal notices were published in The Aegis last week announcing a community input meeting "for a proposed Walmart and other commercial uses" on 33.7 acres on the southwest side of the intersection of Route 924 and Plumtree Road.
The input meeting will be held on July 19 in the Patterson Mill High School auditorium from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The county posted the meeting on its website Thursday, along with a copy of the site plan at http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/PlanningZoning/InputSummary/126.pdf.
According to the legal notice, "the purpose of this meeting is for the applicant to provide information to the community regarding the proposed commercial development (including draft plans for the site layout) and to allow citizens to ask questions and make comments and suggestions."
The owner of the proposed Walmart site is listed in state tax records as Evergreen Business Trust; however, when the site was comprehensively rezoned from high density residential to high intensity commercial use in 2009, a contract purchaser was involved in the change request. Walmart and the site engineer are the only principals listed on the plan submitted to the county.
Walmart corporate has yet to respond to requests for comment about the proposed Plumtree store and its plans for the existing Constant Friendship Abingdon store, which many people following the situation say they believe the company intends to close. A corporate spokesperson said he was still trying to secure approval to reply late Thursday afternoon.
The county councilman who represents the area where the new Walmart is planned said earlier this week that residents are alarmed about it, especially with the prospect of more gridlock in a heavily traveled corridor that includes the local high school.
In addition to the Walmart, another developer is trying to secure approval from the county to build apartments at Route 24 and Plumtree Road, across Route 24 from the Walmart store, on another property owned by Evergreen Business Trust.
According to the Harford County website and a zoning notice posted on the site, Peake Management LLC (listed as "Park" Management LLC on the zoning notice), contract purchaser of the property, is seeking a planned residential development, which requires board of appeals approval.
A hearing on the apartment zoning request is scheduled for Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the county council chamber at 212 S. Bond St. in Bel Air.