Wal-Mart is moving ahead with plans to open a new Supercenter in Bel Air, taking another step in the development process last Friday by submitting a proposed site plan and a traffic impact analysis to the Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning. The move is another in a series of steps required prior to county approval of the project.
The proposed site plan map submitted on September 14th appears similar to one made public at a required community meeting that was held by the company in July. The plan calls for a 185,706 sq.ft. store and a parking lot with 752 spaces located on nearly 17 acres near Plumtree Rd. and MD Rt. 924. The proposed site plan map shows additional lanes on Rt. 924 near the store and a new traffic light at the intersection of Rt. 924 and Bright Oaks Drive. A berm is shown along the section of Rt. 924 that borders the store site.
Also shown is an extension of Blue Spruce Rd. connecting Bel Air South Parkway to Plumtree Rd. Three access points to the store are shown: one from Blue Spruce Drive, another at Bright Oaks Drive and Rt. 924, and another from Plumtree Rd. Proposed sidewalks are shown surrounding the store on some sides, along with tree areas in two locations. The map indicates two potential locations for eight foot “monument” signs. Final landscape design will be determined during final construction drawings, according to the plan.
Below is the proposed site plan:
Traffic Impact Analysis
Excerpts from the summary findings of the traffic impact analysis are provided below. The analysis, provided by Wal-Mart, includes suggested mitigation at five intersections to satisfy Harford County guidelines and to mitigate the impact from the development of the Bel Air site. They are:
MD 24 at Plumtree Road:
“…adding a second southbound MD 24 left turn lane and a second westbound Plumtree Road left turn lane.”
MD 24 at Bel Air South Parkway:
“…a second left turn lane is recommended along both eastbound and westbound Bel Air South Parkway onto MD 24.”
Bel Air South Parkway at Blue Spruce Drive:
“…With the implementation of a traffic signal, minor street delay is reduced and an acceptable level of service can be provided.”
MD 924 at Bel Air South Parkway:
“Provide an additional through lane in the northbound direction. It is anticipated that the northbound lane will continue north of the new site access and drop at Plumtree Road; and… a second eastbound left turn lane from Bel Air South Parkway onto northbound MD 924 while changing the right most lane to a shared through/right turn lane.”
MD 924 at Bright Oaks Drive/Site Access:
“Traffic signalization is recommended to facilitate access to and egress from the site…a second through lane will be needed along northbound MD 924 within this road segment. A separate left turn lane is recommended along northbound 924. A separate right turn lane is needed along southbound MD 924. The site access approach should provide a shared left through lane and separate right turn lane.”
The improvements to failing intersections recommended above are subject to review and approval by county officials and the State Highway Administration (SHA). The county and/or state may also require different improvements than those recommended by Wal-Mart. Improvements required to mitigate the impact from a development are paid for by the developer.
The complete summary appears in the window below:
The complete traffic impact analysis is available online here: www.harfordcountymd.gov/gis. Click on link for Walmart TIA, then open the pdf – Walmart Bel Air – TIA. County officials caution that the file is large.
Hard copies of both the site plan maps and traffic study are available for review at the Department of Planning and Zoning located on the second floor of the county administration building at 220 South Main Street in Bel Air. Office hours are from 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Copies are also available for a fee of 25 cents per page for the 622-page traffic study, and $2 per page for the three-page site plan, which requires large-page duplication.
Wal-Mart Moves Forward Despite Intervention by Harford County Executive David Craig
Wal-Mart’s latest move to build a mega-store in Bel Air comes despite intervention from Harford County Executive David Craig. Following public outcry from area residents, Craig urged the company to expand its Abingdon store, rather than proceed with plans to close the older store and move to a new Supercenter in Bel Air.
In a statement issued in July, Craig echoed concerns raised by Bel Air residents who are angry with the company and county officials alike for a move that they say will further snarl traffic in the area. The Bel Air site, which is currently undeveloped, was zoned B3 by the county in 2009. The classification permits so-called “big box” retail stores.
Craig has acknowledged that county zoning allows for the proposed Bel Air Supercenter, but met with Wal-Mart officials to discuss his concerns and what the county might do to help the company develop a Supercenter at the Abingdon location instead.
Aaron Tomarchio, chief of staff to Craig, said at an August Abingdon Community Council meeting that according to those discussions, Wal-Mart wanted to be in the Bel Air market, with a store modeled after the Fallston Supercenter. Like other Supercenters, the Fallston store sells groceries.
Tomarchio said the company believes they could “get around” a restriction on grocery sales at the Abingdon location, but company engineers didn’t think the Supercenter plan was a fit with the Abingdon site. Tomarchio said the company was asked to reconsider the feasibility of an Abingdon expansion, but he didn’t hold out hope for a change of course.
Battle Lines Drawn
Making the case for a Wal-Mart in Bel Air, the company recently sent mailers to area residents soliciting support for the move from Abingdon. “A new Walmart Supercenter in Harford County will bring convenience, savings and jobs to the community,” reads one mailer. Offering 100 new jobs, additional tax revenue, and energy-saving initiatives in the new building, the mailer also cites a study finding that Wal-Mart saves the average household more than $3,100 per year. A tear-off return postcard is included, with boxes for residents to check if they are willing to write letters or attend a meeting in support of the new Bel Air store. To learn more, residents are asked to call 866-458-1178 or email the company at Harford@walmartsupport.com. Some residents have also reported receiving phone calls from the company in recent days, asking about their support for the new store.
In the other corner, the Bel Air South Community Foundation, formed to oppose the Bel Air Wal-Mart, has gathered signatures on a petition and is soliciting volunteers and donations. The group has a Web site, nobelariwalmart.org, and is planning to distribute bumper stickers and yard signs, according to members of the group. Area residents have also flooded public meetings and called for a boycott of the Abingdon store. The Abingdon Community Council issued a statement in August, opposing the move to Bel Air and calling for county officials to conduct a “thorough and proper review of any development proposal.”
UPDATE: A Development Advisory Committee meeting to review the proposed Supercenter has been scheduled by the Department of Planning and Zoning for 9:00 a.m on Wednesday, Oct. 17. The meeting will be held in the Harford County Council Chambers at 212 South Bond Street in Bel Air. The meeting is open to the public.
I am surprised Cap’n Jim hasn’t put out a press release praising Walmart for bringing jobs and parking problems to Abingdon. wonder is they are going to get a loan too?
I don’t think anyone should be surprised that WalMart is pushing things through to build on the site. The zoning is in their favor and considering the point in planning they’re at and the money they’ve already invested I doubt it can be derailed now.
So it’s time for the county to step up and be proactive to the potential mess coming. Tollgate needs to be a ‘through’ road and the twists and turns on MacPhail Road to Wheel Road need to be made safer as the traffic on those roads will increase beyond any past projections when people start being creative to avoid the congestion on 924 and 24. Traffic lights will need to be synchronized to favor 924 and 24 traffic flow to avoid people entering and exiting from WalMart blocking lanes to ‘make it through the light’ as happens at busy times in Abingdon.
How about a roundabout at MacPhail and Wheel Rds. and one at MacPhail and Ring Factory. I think you’re right, folks from Bel Air will use Wheel to by-pass 924 around Walmart.
As a life long resident of the County, personaly, I’d rather not see the store built in that location. But, I’d rather not see 1,000 houses built on that land either. So it is zoned for commercial business, so it is what it is. I agree that it is time for the State and County to step up and fix all of these regional traffic messes.
This is what I would do:
1: Rt 24 needs to be expanded to three travel lanes in each direction from Tollgate Rd to McPhail Rd.
2: Tollgate needs to be opened up between Bel Air South Parkway & Plumtree Rd. (Put in a traffic circle.)
3: Wheel Rd. needs to be widened between Laurel Valley and McPhail Rd to 2 ten foot travel lanes with an 6 foot shoulder on each side.
4: Wheel Rd. and Rt. 24 interchange needs to be improved for leftand right turns.
5: Rt 924 needs two travel lanes in each direction from Wheel Rd. up through Patterson Mill Rd.
6: McPhail Rd. needs to be connected between Rt 24 and Rt 924. If the schools are worried about the cut through, put up a ten foot concrete noise barrier on both sides of the road with a bridge overhead connecting the two schools.
7: The whole mess in Bel Air westbound on Rt 22 between Hickory Avenue and Baltimore Pike needs to be fixed. There is a very simple solution to the problem that only requires making Baltimore Pike a one way between the KFC and 924. The two travel lanes can flow westward from Rt 22 onto Rt 1 Business.
8: While we are at at, lets fix Rt 22 between Rt 543 to Rt 22 and expand to four travel lanes and a center turn lane.
9: Expand Rt 152 from two travel lanes to four lanes between I-95 and Rt 1.
If we are going to build all of this stuff, then lets get the roads upgraded to handle the traffic.
Unfortunately, it won’t happen because the politicians don’t have the stomach to fix real problems. We will be left with even greater traffic problems than we have now. Thats too bad.
The Money Tree says
Traffic – that’s all great except in several instances your suggestions include putting roads practically on people’s doorsteps; especially your 152 widening and Wheel to Patterson. There has to be at least 30 homes along that stretch(s) if not more. That adds an additional 8-12 million in costs because you’ll basically have to pay all those people for their homes. Where is that money coming from?
Just shows how much you don’t know. On Rt 152, the State already owns the right-a-way to do what I am proposing. It is listed in the 20 year DOT traffic plan. It will cost an additional ZERO!
The Money Tree says
Having a right of way in no way allows the government to render someone’s property of zero value without compensation. Right of way or not the taxpayers will still have to buy those people out. What do you think they’re doing right now towards the entrace to APG…that’s right Mr. Smartypants…they (we) are paying fair market value for people forced from their homes by the widening of that road. You can’t build a high-speed road 10 ft. from someone’s front door without compensation.
I agree completely! Why waste time whining about the Wal Mart when we know it’s just going to end up in Bel Air anyway? It wouldn’t be such a problem if they’d just FIX the roads! There were so many projects that were supposed to happen when BRAC came in, but I sure haven’t seen any improvements!!! I agree with all of your suggestions.
Money Tree has no idea what she is are talking about. The government pays you money when they take your property either through a purchase or condemnation process. On Rt. 152, the State already owns the land “between the poles”. Just because someone is mowing that area and using it as a front yard does not change the fact that it is owned by the State of Maryland. They can use that property anytime they want, especially if it has no impact on your property. What???Do you honestly think when they widened Rt 924 between Ring Factory and McPhail that they paid all of the property owners. Of course NOT! The State already owned the property between the poles (utility poles). Seriously, this is real estate 101.
You are 100% right on this topic.
The Money Tree says
Not to beat a dead horse – what the state has right of way to “between the poles” along 152 has little to do with the appropriateness of Walmart on Plumtree. Nevertheless, you do realize there are only poles along one side of 152 and then in many places nonexistant. In addition, the poles vere away from 152 to Old Mountain Rd through that entire stretch. I’m seriously doubting much of what you say. I’d really like to see a link to support you’re contention that it will cost the taxpayers zero dollars in terms of property compensation doubling the width of 152 all the way from 1 to 95. I expect crickets.
Making roads larger does not always make a community better! What ever happened to the pedestrian and bicycle byways mentioned in the County Master Plan for our district?
fyi–there is a proposal to make Tollgate go all the way through and put apartments there. Also, they are planning on permanently CLOSING off the intersection of 24 and Plumtree Road on the opposite side of 24 from the proposed Walmart. This is a safety hazard. Emergency vehicles will have to drive right through the thick traffic on Bel Air South Pkwy to cross 24 to reach Tollgate or access homes off of Plumtree like Plumtree Estates. If I’m not mistaken, the Fire Department is using the opposite logic to appeal to get McPhail Rd OPENED up between 24 and 924 to improve access to neighborhoods and schools.
As a forman chair of a committee I won’t mention, the only group stopping McPhail from being connected from 24 to 924 is the School Board. That is why I recommend a noise barrier on both sides on the expanded road with a small fenced in pedestrian bridge connecting the two schools. That way, there is zero chance of any student being hurt, great traffic mobility for that area and improved emergency response times. It’s a win-win for everyone, unfortunately, your school system doesn’t like cange.
Thanks for your realistic and well-stated opinion.
The die is cast, this Wal-Mart is coming, and there is no way to stop that from happening now. The best thing we can do at this point is try to minimize the impact this new store will have on the surrounding communities and area traffic.
The real lesson here is for all of us to become more involved in local issues. We are about the pay the price of apathy. The zoning change that allowed this store to be built was approved by the Council with — if I recall correctly — little or no public opposition other than that of Friends of Harford, who saw this coming and tried to sound the alarm.
Common $ense says
Walmart (formerly Wal-Mart) always does whatever it wants. Unfortunately, it can’t be stopped (kind of like an advancing avalanche!) What can you do….? Refuse to patronize. Sadly though….all the little shoppers will be drawn to “King” Walmart like the Pied Piper led the little children astray!
I live off off Laural Bush and as it is , during rush hour, it takes 20 min. to get to my kids school at HWES. All the lights and the TWO other schools getting out. This is going to be a logistical nightmare. As it is the Sonic and McDonalds causes all kinds of traffic problems. Not to mention crime in the amediate area will go up. I don’t even go to the Abingdon Walmart because in the past, when I had there had always been a security issue. Someone shoplifting, fighting, and unruly conduct by the patrons.
Put the little darlings on a school bus.
David A. Porter says
How fat are your little darlings because you choose to burn fossil fuel and coddle them instead making them walk?
Well you should have considered that the buisness zoned land might actually have gotten a buisness built on it. BTW do you have a study linking wall mart to increased crime? Is not the crime a reflection of the people who live in the area?
The site was rezoned by the County Administration against the recommendation of almost all of those involved in the discussions and focus/planning groups. Per the Administration, the initial zoning change was made with the intent to expand “upscale retail” like Wegmans (which didn’t choose this site because it was inappropriate),Trader Joes, and other services that could complement a Center for the Arts and the surrounding residential neighborhoods. Only after the change was voted on the true site plan was revealed.
Walmart will only cannibalize existing business as there are only so many dollars to go around and we will be left with more blight, empty retail storefronts, and the same problems that Edgewood is currently struggling to overcome.
Appropriate zoning does not equal appropriate development. Yes, the community would accept business there. Let’s stick to the initial promise of high end, appropriate scale neighborhood retail shops that does not endanger the lives of the children attending the 7 schools (pre-k to HS) in the immediate area.
There are only “so many dollars to go around”, but Walmart’s also closing the other store. They’re just moving the location they’re collecting those dollars in exchange for cheap Chinese crap.
Edgewood is blighted because its the, ta-da, ghetto.
When you have crackheads outside the Giant asking for $5 (not one dollar, five dollars; it happened every time I shopped there my first few months in the area until a coworker told me to go to Mars) from any white customer exiting the store, its not surprising when it goes out of business.
Putting in signaled intersections at 924/Bright Oaks and Bel Air South/Blue Spruce is absolutely proposterous.
While I realize turning from either of these streets is challenging and basically dangerous, putting another intersection in either of these spots is the height of lunacy.
This makes it absolutely clear that Walmart’s main concern is keeping the traffic congestion out of their parking lot and on our streets, with essentially no regard for the community, our saftey, or our time.
The Money Tree says
Quite simply Wal-Mart is not your community store…they don’t care about this town or what the citizens want. All they care about is putting themselves in a position to undermine other businesses and drive them out. What will our country look like when all that’s left is Walmart; where our clothes, food and sudries are all mass produced in China and everybody works for Wal-Mart making $8.00/hour? Boycott Walmart permanently…
I thought when the citizens wanted it zoned buisness comercial they wanted a buisness to move in?
The Money Tree says
To say citizens have much, if any influence over zoning is a stretch. We normally acquiesce because we work jobs, we have kids, we’re too tired to pay as much attention as we should to zoning changes. I think everyone in the crosshairs of this Walmart fiasco are painfully aware they should have seen this thing evolving before now, however that’s hardly to say anybody wanted a business to move in – I’d bet if you polled the neighbors they’d have told you a park or a woods would have been much preferred. Aren’t you a teacher?
So they where to busy to participate and now they want to complain. That is not how government works. If they wanted those things than they should have gotten it zoned as such.
The Money Tree says
So people give up their right to lobby their government in cases where they change thier minds then? Oh I see then by all means lets bring back slavery. Is that OK by you I mean after all the time to complain was when they purchased these humans in Africa and now that they’re here it’s just to late.
No people give up their right to complain when they sit on their tail and are not involved. If you don’t steep up then don’t complain later.
Too little too late. This property was zoned B3 back in 2009 by the county, didn’t anyone see this coming then? This is what Walmart does, gobble up concentrated areas to plant their superstores with the promise of low paying jobs and revenue regardless of what impact on the area. Walmart gives shoppers what they want, low prices on cheap imported products.
Driving anywhere in or near Bel Air during the morning or afternoon rush hour is at best exhausting! Not looking forward to the additional time I’ll be sitting in traffic after this Walmart opens, and yes folks it will happen.
If you thought the number of accidents skyrocketed after the Sonic opened, just wait until this Walmart is built. 924 will now be a parking lot, thanks to the increased traffic AND the accidents that are going to follow.
And I remember coming home from Festival last year the day before Christmas. Traffic was at a crawl. Wait until this Walmart is completed.
I hope everyone enjoyed the nice small-town feel of Bel Air. Those days are dead. Bel Air will now become a less-than-desirable place to live and the town will die a slow death. Those with the resources will flee to less crowded regions leaving those who cannot afford to move with properties that have no real value any longer.
I hate to break this news to you Crash but Bel Air lost that “small town feel” a LONG time ago. The Walmart is just another step further down that road. When Bel Air & Abingdon became one community that’s when the “small town feel” left.
I agree, I can remember driving down Rt 24 (now 924) from Friendly’s in Bel Air to the old Amoco gas station in Edgewood (RT 755/24) and seeing nothing but trees, a few churches and maybe a couple traffic signals. That small town feeling is gone for sure.
Old Timer Harford County says
Wal-Mart is how we lost the small time feel? Now that’s funny. Small time feel is when we had a theater on Main St and Tom Sawyer Days (which ended in 75?). People complaining about Laural Bush. Really? If you live off Laural Bush you don’t even know how little this town was. It is because you came here that Wal-Mart wants to be here to. It is zoned properly, it is private property. We can’t stop them using the property any more than we can get everyone who moved here after 1975 to leave.
Any the traffic getting out of a large Wal-Mart anywhere is better than where they are at. That shopping center with one exit it one of the worst designs allowed anywhere, not just Harford County. Driving down Rt 1 near the Fallston Wal-Mart is not more dangerous or a problem then before they were there.
I drive home to Bel Air from Ft Meade. Some of the longest waits used to be, not at the tunnels or on the interstate, but when I got off I-95 and had to sit at red lights around Constant Friendship. Now with the overpass/bridge – it’s a better ride. Traffic will be scary at Walmart-Bel Air I’m sure – for a while. Then it will get better, as the new wears off, and proper traffic controls are implemented.
Despite some of the comments above, this is NOT a done deal. There are many people working very hard to prevent the relocation of this store. If this issue is important to you, you MUST support the Bel Air South Community Association’s efforts and you MUST be present at the DAC meeting, currently scheduled for October 17, to show the decision makers how many affected citizens oppose this issue. You may need to take the day off from work. So be it. If you do nothing and sit on the sidelines, you have no right to complain now or in the future.
Walmart is lying by advertising that they will save residents $3100 a year. There was a Bloomberg study just completed that said Target is the lowest priced retailer out there. They are most competitive in the grocery category.
“According to a Bloomberg study, the cheap-chic discounter(Target) has offered shoppers lower prices than Walmart this month…and by the widest pricing margin since the study launched two years ago.” dailyfinance.com
$3100? Where did they pull that number from? That is $60 a week. How can they save the price of my entire weekly grocery bill? Where do they think we are shopping, Royal Farms for $5 cookies and $2 bananas? Maybe that is how much things cost in Bentonville Arkansas. That’s hardly relevant here.
I hope our new County seal doesn’t read, “Har-mart County, Maryland. At the risque of our lives (from traffic fatalities) and fortunes (by falling home values).”
The Money Tree says
I don’t know about that study but I’ve read that Walmart does NOT save on groceries quite simply because you can’t create our groceries in China – if they could they would but there’s this little thing in the way called spoilage. That means they source thier food the same as everybody else so if they say they’re saving people money on groceries they’re lying but then again Walmart has always been in the business of disinformation.
Let me explain a little something about retail and Walmart’s business model. You see, they sell pretty much everything under the sun. Many times when retailers have a “sale” they take price cuts on items that are populal and generate traffic to their store. That’s because they use a million different techniques to get us to buy more than we need and things we didn’t go there for. All that other stuff is not on “sale”. In fact, sometimes it is marked UP. So in the end, they still make their money.
And there’s a funny thing about food. It’s very popular. We buy it every day, week, and month. And you can’t not buy it. So what generates more customer traffic than groceries? Right, nothing (except maybe gas)
So what Walmart is going to do is sell the groceries at a really low price point when they first open and run lots of adds comparing their prices to other groceries stores and show you how much money you will save. But as I said above, they sell other stuff too, so they are pretty confident you are going to also go buy a bunch of crap you don’t need in the process. PLUS, after a while, the prices on their groceries are going to start creeping upward, until eventually, you’re hardly saving money at all (all things being equal). But at that point, you are used to the store, the selection, etc, and you aren’t going to bother with price comparisons anymore.
And now they have you.
Now part of that is the retail model. Grocery stores already do this with batteries and pots and pans and other things you should never buy at a grocery store.
But the difference with Walmart is that it’s really 4 or 5 different stores, selling different things, at different price points, but all owned by the same company and all operating in concert to make sure that 1) they make a profit and 2) you spend more than you need to.
ALEX R says
Ah, yes, Noble, but you and I are smarter than that. Usually.
That’s why we know who has what we usually buy and what a good price for it is. And we never buy batteries at a grocery store. And we always check ratings on big ticket items like cars and electronics and appliances to make sure we get the best value for our money.
I don’t mind them making a reasonable profit but I like to at least know when I am getting screwed over and enter into the transaction willingly. An informed and disciplined consumer is their worst enemy.
You could easily “save” $3100 a year by shopping at Walmart, if you did not compare quality vs what you could buy elsewhere. Yes, Walmart might sell a lawn mower for $200, but when you compare it to a John Deere or Honda for $600, you just saved $400 (even though you’ll buy four Walmart mowers to last the same lifetime as the JD or Honda).
ALEX R says
Maybe, Kharn, but some folks don’t have the $600 and so that is not an option for them like it is for you and for me.
I agree with your premise but for a lot of people it isn’t an option to buy higher end even if it is better quality and a better deal in the long run. And that is why I support Walmart even though when I do shop there I am very careful about what I buy.
While a lawn mower is more like an appliance (Must have), your logic also extends to TV’s and stereos, and computers, and bookcases. All of which you or I might not usually buy from Walmart for the above reasons, but many people do because they want them or have been convinced they “need” them.
And that is the state of our consumer society, where rather than save up money to get nice things, we go buy the cheapest “thing” like it we can find and fulfill our “need” for it.
And so we applaud our selves for “saving” money, but condemn the person who uses a credit card to buy the “nice” thing, when really what’s the difference? They are both paying more than they need to for something they probably don’t “need”.
Walmart’s business model encourages this kind of consumer behavior and the overall mentality that we deserve whatever we want now, the easy way.
Is is Walmart’s fault? Of course not. But they participate in the process and make money off of the poor decisions of others. Kinda like robo-signed bad home loans, right? Yet we all hate the bankers.
You’re missing the game: Walmart doesn’t care if you actually had the money to buy the expensive version or not, because you bought their version for a lower price you’re considered to have saved money just because the expensive one is available.
ALEX R says
C’mon, Kharn. I am not addressing the “you will save a lot of money at Walmart” thing. Everyone finds a study that makes them look good and publishes the heck out of it. And if the can’t find one they commission one.
I am simply and only saying that your argument that others should never buy inexpensive or cheap is somewhat elitist because it doesn’t address the fact that there are those whose economic circumstances don’t permit them to buy anything other than the poorly made underwear from China and the $200 lawn mower. For those that have the resources and choose to buy junk then they will bear the brunt of their stupidity.
I am blessed because I can pay cash (no outrageous credit card fees) and I can buy quality. Many are not so blessed. All that faces me is disciplining myself to buy what I need and not a lot of what I just want. My wife helps with that. :o)
I never said people should only buy expensive things, each person has to do the price vs value comparison for himself. I have some Harbor Freight tools, I also have some Snap On, it just depends how often I expect to use it and how critical I feel its performance is.
The good news is that we’ll be constructing another 4 year bridge project for this new wal mart, just in time for them to locate the next large plot of zoned woods once its completed.
Check out the traffic study, page 20. the size of the proposed Walmart is 189,564 square feet. Included in the traffic study is a hypothetical 4,880 convenience store with gas pumps, two 8,000 sq ft high quality restaurants (like Walmart…haha), and 4,500 additional sq ft of retail space.
David Craig–please don’t be known as the County Executive the ruined Bel Air. Appropriate zoning doesn’t equal appropriate development. Return the sanity to this situation and have this property zoned back to it’s 2009 zoning. And Pete Gultwald–just because the traffic numbers work in a computer program doesn’t mean it will work in the real world. Ask anyone that drives route 24 from Edgewood and APGEA heading west after work. The new lanes are poorly planned and cause much angst for drivers. Computer queuing models are not smarter than intelligent human beings.
I looked at their traffic study and it looks like the study indicates that the traffic at a whole list of intersections is already at an unacceptable level therefore Walmart would not be obligated to “fix” it as it is already broken. The intersections listed are just about every 924 intersection from Bel Air South Parkway to MacPhail. Intersections leading to Glenwood and West Riding were not included in the study, but Bright Oaks was. On 24, it lists every intersection from Singer to Ring Factory.
Walmart will only change the roads directly adjacent to that Plumtree/924/Bel Air South Pkwy/Blue Spruce lot. I am not a traffic engineer, so that is just how I read it.
I am no traffic engineer either, but my reading concurs with yours.
Those intersections (as we all know) are already “failing” intersections. Walmart only has to “mitigate” the impact of their development (which is fair, legally speaking) and ensure that the status of the intersections doesn’t get worse.
Their proposals are not designed, or required, to “fix” anything. This is the same for all development.
David A. Porter says
Guys… I will share with you what I have felt when someone decides to question simple observations about a situation that you have identified as undesirable:
You don’t have to be a farmer to know what a Pig looks like.
Concerned Teacher says
What in the blue hell does that mean?
David A. Porter says
Obviously explaining it to you would be lost on you. There are two kinds of people in this world: those that can draw conclusions from a limited set of data….
ALEX R says
. . . . and those that manufacture data to support their conclusions.
If you think in terms of how bad traffic is around the Festival at Christmas, that will be the traffic around 924/Plumtree area during most days. Unless there is a major road upgrade to the entire area to funnel traffic away from that “box”, this will be a traffic night mare NO MATTER what is built in that box. One solution, though the State will fight it would be to have ingress and egress onto NB RT 24 through a merge lane only. And while they are at it, do the same thing from the Festival onto NB 24 and SB 924. That would eliminate a lot of east-west traffic on Plumtree and B-A Parkway.
I have asked notable county and state highway officials about these access points on 24 for well over a year, and they all have said it’s not going to happen.
I have hoped that maybe the largest company in the world could pay enough people off to make it happen, but I’m beginning to think the largest company in the world just doesn’t care as long as they get their store.
Folks, face the reality that the store WILL BE BUILT. The County can’t stop it. Learn the valuable lessons of other communities from previous development projects. It is useless to fight the store, use your energy, resources and human capital to get needed improvements to the area infrastructure which the government does control and can get assistance from Wal Mart.
You know a long time ago they wanted to build a mall where the current Wal Mart is in Abingdon with access to 95 along with parks, fire house, library, etc. They fought the mall and look at the mess they ended up with. And, oh yea, the County paid for the library, fire house, etc., not the mall developer.
The Money Tree says
Do you work for Walmart? So far seems to me you want everyone to give up the fight and then pay for a bunch of road improvements that will be largely caused by the store.
No not at all, I don’t think they should build the store at that location. I just see the bigger picture because I thoroughly understand the law and how the process works. You are wasting your time fighting the store. Your time would be better spent getting concessions out of the store bsing built on matters that will ultimately allow people in the area to retain a high quality of life.
You may be right but is there really a need to convince people not to fight back? With the amount of apathy and lack of public involvement in the community it seems like a waste of energy to urge others to give up. While I agree that there are opportunities to improve infrastructure, as an engineer I can tell you that road widening and new traffic signals will only take you so far.
For those who say that we missed the opportunity when it was rezoned, you are absolutely correct. Our council members believed it would become a mixed use development and the residents were either too trusting or not involved. Now that people are getting invovled why discourage them?
It is not just about the Walmart. There are also the 198 apartments, several additional parcels adjacent to Walmart with undisclosed plans for development, the Cultural Arts Center, the fire station, the Stack and Store, the additional parcels near Sonic, etc. None of our elected officials and civil servants are looking at the cumulative impact of all these projects located within this concentrated and heavily populated area.
I encourage anyone who has any concerns about these projects to get involved and participate in this process. It is not a waste of time or energy. Even if it does get built we can ensure they are held to the highest standard and do not cut corners by obtaining waivers and variances.
Its bad enough having a Walmart on this side of 95. Now the trashy store wants to lower property values in the Belair area.Their prices can be beat at most stores.Don’t waste your hard earned money increasing their profits. I like Target and would drive 10 miles further past walmart to get there. Walmart attracts people that think they are getting a good deal because they are at Walmart. Nothing could be further from the truth.If you want to get a good deal shop around. You’ll find it cheaper everywhere else. Take it to the bank.
Concerned Teacher says
Wow. So many things to respond to. First off, could you sound more snobbish and elitist? Secondly, to say that “[t]heir prices can be beat at most stores” is an outright lie. I save between 20% and 30% on my grocery bill by shopping at my local Walmart, and as much as 50% on some over-the-counter medications. If I didn’t buy anything else there, it would be worth it to me to shop there solely for groceries and medications. To be able to spend $350 on groceries per month instead of $500 is a big deal to me. You say, “If you want to get a good deal shop around. You’ll find it cheaper everywhere else. Take it to the bank.” I say that $150 per month that stays in my bank makes you just plain wrong.
It is a myth that Walmart has the cheapest groceries. Maybe at one point they were but not anymore: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-23/target-cheaper-than-wal-mart-as-gap-widest-in-two-years.html. I really doubt you would save $150 a month unless you are switching from some place like Whole Foods.
You CAN save money by shopping for groceries at Walmart. I have proven it myself. I went to Giant one week and the next to Walmart and I saved $40 by shopping at Walmart. Now I’m not saying that Target isn’t cheaper but to say you can’t save money be getting groceries at Walmart compared to a chain grocery store is a flat out lie. I did the “shopping around” myself.
The Money Tree says
I read the same article – Walmart can’t sell groceries cheaper because they’re forced to rely on the same markets as every other retail grocer – ie. can’t manufacture food in China and ship it here. Walmart relies on a limited market strategy that’s worked for them. Doesn’t matter if it’s food or electronics – they mark down a limited number of items; place them in strategic locations in the store and advertise them heavily leading people to incorrectly believe they’re getting a better deal and then buying other crap before they leave the store. As far as food goes Walmart will be far less concerned with buying locally as some of our local grocers do because they can’t get it cheaper than everybody else. They’ll of course try to demand they get the better deal because of volumne discounts but personally I’m not interested in driving our local farmers to the poor house to satisfy Walmarts wish to undercut the competition. It’s a horrible store, with horrible managerment, with a horrible perspective on corporate responsibility, but being a died in the wool conservative I vote with my feet because I’m interested in keeping our local small businesses around. Why? Because they’re my neighbors – buy Walmart hurt your own communities and further erode our manufacturing base. The right thing to do is pretty obvious.
Most grocery store get their inventory from the MD Wholesale Food Center, MD Wholesale Seafood Market and the MD Wholesale Produce Markets in Jessup MD. Look it up. Giant, Shop Rite, Mars, they all get their products from the Center. They then get additional products like bread, eggs, pretzels, ect. from local suppliers and farms. Their dry goods and sundries usually come from a local wholesaler like B Green in Baltimore. The national chains and Wal Mart have regional warehouses that act as wholesalers to supply their own stores. The advantage that Wal Mart has is that because they buy in huge volumns, they can dictate the price to the manufacturer. Studies have shown that some food products at Wal Mart are cheaper than grocery stores and some are not. At the end of the day, people will shop where they feel they get the best deal, with good service and consistent pricing. It really is that simple. There is also the matter of convenience which is where small stores have an advantage. If I need a toilet flapper, I am not going to the big box home store, I just go to the local hardware store. It might be .59 cents more, but my time has a value, so the convenience factor kicks in. If I need a whole pallet of 2×4’s, I’ll go to the big box store because at that point, the value of my time is outweighed by the value of the savings.
The Money Tree says
Not disputing any of that; it pretty much agrees with what I said however my concern is that one line where we absolutely agree. Walmart can “dictate the price to the manufacturer due to volume”. That’s certainly the free market ideal however…when you’re the biggest game in town, hoping to eventually be the only game in town the relentless drive to the bottom means small farmers are crushed, manufacturers are forced to ship jobs overseas, salaries remain stagnant or decrease, increased concentration of just a few companies that grow bigger and bigger because eventually economy of scale makes it impossible for startups or competitors to enter into business, reduction in quality, limitation of choice, etc. This in the long run is absolutely unhealthy for our economy…Walmart is not solely responsible for the collapse of manufacturing in the US, but they’ve certainly contributed. I’m not interested in bankrupting my neighbors so I don’t shop there.
ALEX R says
Driving farmers to the poor house? Rousedale Farm (local Harford County and I’m not picking on them just using them as an example) sell whole chickens for $4.50 per pound. Doesn’t sound like the poor house to me. Where is the most expensive place to buy fruit and vegetables? The Bel Air Farmer’s Market. I can’t afford local very often although I do like to support locally grown stuff.
The Money Tree says
There’s retail and there’s wholesale. Certainly direct sales from farmer to customer return much higher margins otherwise farmers wouln’t be in that business; I’d argue Brad’s business model relies specifically on retail sales; but he’s the exception rather than the rule…and that isn’t the way it works with Walmart or any other “middle man” grocer.
Yeah thats it, just give up. Exactly what they what they want you to do. Keep fighting, keep writing, and stop shopping at Walmart
If people didn’t aimlessly drive around doing nothing, it certainly would help.
With Walmarts in Abingdon, Fallston and Aberdeen (not to mention the Targets at both ends of 24) I absolutely do NOT see a need for another. Why is the county going through with this?!? Our neighborhood is already chock full of stores and every convenience you can imagine. Enough already, there is no need for another Walmart! If nothing else I’d rather see them build a Sam’s Club!
Of course, in a perfect world it would be a park!
Seriously, you can’t be that stupid. The county’s not building Walmart. Walmart is building Walmart. The county builds schools, roads, and parks — not stores.
And the county can’t stop it because it is zoned for this type of retail. If the county denied Walmart building permits they would be sued for discrimination and would lose easily (with taxpayers footing the bill for legal fees).
Now, years ago when there was comp rezoning, the county could have changed the zoning. But ironically, area residents asked the county to take away the residential portion of the property and make it all business because they didn’t want a bunch of townhomes built there. They said they would rather have retail.
And also, when this Walmart opens the Abingdon one will close. It’s not so much a “new” Walmart as it is a relocated (and expanded) Walmart. I don’t want Walmart there either but I’m not wasting my energy on something that is going to happen regardless.
BTW, is there an active petition I can sign that opposes this build???
Yes. I think it is on change.org try googling walmart bel air petition.
Of all the local chains, Giant does seem to be the most expensive (I don’t shop at Wegman’s or Safeway so I don’t know their prices). You can probably save that $40 shopping at Shoprite, Mars, or Weis Markets. Or, according to the study, possible save more than $40 at Target. All of these already exist in the Abingdon/Bel Air area so I really do not see any advantages adding Walmart to the mix. Additionally, some of the other stores have programs affiliated with the local schools through which they donate thousands of dollars to our local schools (escrip, A-plus, Target take charge of education…). To my knowledge, Walmart has no such programs, so switching to Walmart not only provides no price advantage, it takes money away from my school’s PTA’s.
Old Timer Harford County says
This is like a comedy club. I spent some time reading the petitions and so far my favorite is from Kimberly N*** of Edgewood, MD on change.org
“do not want more congestion in bel air.. will be moving there in a month”
Classic. So Kimberly, why is it OK for you to move onto private property in Bel Air and not Wal-Mart? Assuming you are moving into an area that is zoned for you to live there? In 1970 Bel Air South had under 3,500 people living there. Today there is over 34,000 of you. No wonder Wal-Mart wants to be there. If 30,000 of you left, Wal-Mart would leave it alone.
What really gets me is for all the spouting off on here, there is only one locally owned and operated grocer, Klein’s now called Shop-rite. All of this fawning on Target and Safeway. Come on, if you really want to keep it Harford County, stick with who is here, leaving the profits close to home, adding to society. They have done a lot in these communities for the years. You want to save Harford County keep it the way it is. Go to Courtland Hardware instead of Home Depot. Do you think if Home Depot had failed here because people refused to shop there and kept shopping local, Wal-Mart would be here? You name national chain and regional chain that are good enough for you, but until you will do the work to shop the farmers market instead of Giant you are just proving the point that you really do want Wal-Mart here. When you get your prescription filled at CVS/Wal-greens instead of Boyd and Fulford, you beg for another chain to come here. When you leave Scotto’s empty and fill up Joe’s Crab Shack… anyway.
ALEX R says
Klein’s Shop Rite is not locally owned. It was when it was Klein’s but not now that Shop Rite is involved.
But you are right about Scotto’s, Boyd and Fulford, Courtland, Bel Air Bakery (could someone please, please bring a quality bakery to Harford County?), etc.
Why is it okay for Kimberly to move to Bel Air but she doesn’t want Walmart and she doesn’t want anyone to make it crowded? Because the world revolves around Kimberly so she thinks she should get whatever her little heart desires otherwise everyone is just being mean and hateful.
Does anybody know what is supposed to move into the old Abingdon Wal-mart site? I would love a BassPro Shop!!
Walmart will hold on to the property and to ensure that something goes into the location that doesn’t compete with their business. Therefore, a Bass Pro Shop is less than likely. However, I have heard that they are proposing to turn it into a homeless shelter as part of the plan B. That’s where the 100 “new” Walmart workers will live because they are not given full time positions and are not paid a living wage. Also, all the workers that lose their jobs at Shoprite, Giant (which will be closing), Weis, Mars, Highs, ATT store, Verizon store, Sprint store, Kitchen and Company, Five Below, Rite Aid, Cortland Hardware, and Walgreens will be housed there. Find a need and fill it!
Sorry you can’t have a BassPro Shop for the following reasons.
1. Pick up truck traffic with bull testicles on the hitch will overwhelm Rt. 24 and the surrounding roads.
2. Beerbellied sportsmen and toothless zombified Deliverance Rednecks will overrun Harford County
3. David Craig may become infected and turn into a toothless zombified Deliverance Redneck.
4. Bambi deer populations will drop and the vegans will start eating deer, squirrel and other furry little animals.
5. Mother Earth is on the brink of total collapse and Bel Air is ground zero so the combination of Walmart building and BassPro Shop filling their old spot would cause a apocalyptic calamity.
So no BassPro for you!
Thanks for finally talking about >UPDATED: Harford County
Development Advisory Committee Schedules Oct. 17 Meeting on Proposed Bel Air Wal-Mart Supercenter <Loved it!
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