Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, hasn't abandoned its effort to build a store in Ellicott City, even though it has proposed building a store in nearby Catonsville.
"Ellicott City is still very much being pursued. It is still very high on our interest list," said Kim McClure, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.
Wal-Mart has filed a petition with the state Court of Special Appeals, seeking to reverse a Howard County Circuit Court ruling that denied Wal-Mart's request for rezoning at a 54-acre site near the intersection of Routes 40 and 29 in Ellicott City.
Howard Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney rejected on Feb. 24 an appeal by landowner Nicholas Mangione and Wal-Mart, who sought to reverse a county Zoning Board decision blocking rezoning of the land.
Wal-Mart and Mr. Mangione wanted the zoning changed from office/research to general business. Court of Special Appeals records show Wal-Mart filed the appeal March 25.
A judge cleared the case to move forward April 13 and the county has until June 14 to present its records to the state's second-highest court, a court clerk said.
Baltimore County zoning officials said this week that Wal-Mart has proposed tearing down a vacant Montgomery Ward store at Route 40 and Rolling Road in Catonsville so it can build a 126,000-square-foot store.
That project, if approved, would be about six miles from the Howard County site Wal-Mart has targeted.
"Just because we decided to locate in one town or city doesn't mean we won't also attempt to locate in another nearby. Nationally we have many instances of Wal-Mart stores being located less than 10 miles apart," Ms. McClure of Wal-Mart said.
Ms. McClure said in deciding where to locate its stores, Wal-Mart conducts market studies to determine the strength of consumer demand in an area and whether a store's location would draw customers from other nearby areas.
Wal-Mart has been attempting for more than 1 1/2 years to set up a store in Ellicott City.
County planning officials say the retailer has not filed proposals for any other locations in Howard County.
Ms. McClure declined to comment on other locations in the county the retailer may be considering for stores.
Meanwhile BJ's, a competitor of Wal-Mart's Sam's Club stores, plans to open a store in Columbia sometime next month, said Susan Grieb, a spokeswoman for the Natick, Mass.-based chain, which operates 42 retail warehouse clubs on the East Coast.
Construction is nearing completion on a 115,000-square-foot BJ's Wholesale Club in Snowden Square center, a Rouse Co. project off Snowden River Parkway east of Oakland Mills Road.
The BJ's store will employ about 160 full- and part-time workers.
The membership-only retail outlet will join Hechinger Home Project Center, Service Merchandise, a catalog order and jewelry seller, and Marshall's, a discount clothing chain, in Snowden Square, said Edward Ely, director for land sales and marketing for the Rouse Co.
BJ's sees Columbia as a strong potential market, said Ms. Grieb.
Mr. Ely said the company decided to develop Snowden Square because market studies showed Columbians were leaving the area to wholesale shop and to purchase electronics and jewelry.