Opponents Rail Against Proposed 2nd Walmart Store In Manchester
MANCHESTER, Dec 04, 2012 (Menafn - The Hartford Courant - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Opponents of a proposed second Walmart in town told the planning and zoning commission Monday night that the new store will kill existing businesses, including the Shop Rite supermarket across the street.
The commission was hearing comment on a proposal to build a Walmart on the Spencer Street site of the former Kmart building, which has been demolished. The commission had not voted as of late Monday.
Wal-Mart submitted an application for a 152,430-square-foot store at 205 Spencer St. A Walmart spokesman has said the store would be a "supercenter" with a full grocery section. Walmart already has a store on Buckland Hills Drive.
Opponents said that the new Walmart would drain business not only from Shop Rite, but also from the Ocean State Job Lot and Pep Boys stores in the same plaza. They also said that because the town cannot support two Walmarts, the Buckland store will likely end up closing, leaving another vacant "big box."
But John Knuff, an attorney for the applicant, said the proposal meshes with the town's plan of conservation and development. The store will be located in a transportation "node," as the plan calls for, and it uses space that had been used for retail instead of building on open space.
The former 94,694-square-foot Kmart building was vacant for about 10 years before it was demolished. The other building in the 21-acre plaza houses a Subway sandwich shop, Ocean State Job Lot and Pep Boys. The northern portion of that building would be demolished under the plans, reducing it from about 83,000 square feet to 62,220 square feet. Ocean State Job Lot and Pep Boys would remain as occupants.
The plaza site has about 560 feet of frontage on Spencer Street. Walmart contracted for a traffic study, which found the new store would add 730 trips during weekday evening hours and 894 trips on Saturdays at midday.
Despite proposed changes to keep traffic flowing, opponents said Monday that traffic is already heavy in the area, especially with students from nearby Manchester Community College, and will only get worse with a new Walmart.
The plan includes 1,000 parking spaces -- 721 for Walmart and 279 for Ocean State Job Lot and Pep Boys. The number of parking spaces is 141 more than zoning rules require, according to town planners.
Walmart also plans to use several "green" technologies in the new building, including installation of skylights, a white roof to increase sun reflection and reduce cooling loads and LED lighting.
Last year, Walmart gained approval to add about 27,000 square feet to the Buckland Hills Drive store.
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