Manchester Zoning Panel To Take Up Walmart Application In January
MANCHESTER, Dec 04, 2012 (Menafn - The Hartford Courant - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --The planning and zoning commission is to continue discussion and possibly vote on a proposed second Walmart store in town at its January meeting.
The panel has been hearing testimony, including comments at a public hearing Monday night, on a proposal to build a Walmart on the Spencer Street site of the former Kmart building, which has been demolished.
The commission tabled a final decision Monday, mainly because the meeting had gone on until almost midnight and commission members decided they needed time to consider all they had heard, Mark Pellegrini, the town's director of neighborhood services and economic development, said Tuesday.
"They were not in a position to process it all," Pellegrini said.
The commission closed the public hearing Monday and the application will be on its Jan. 7 meeting agenda.
The proposed 152,430-square-foot store at 205 Spencer St. would be a "supercenter" with a full grocery section. Walmart already has a store on Buckland Hills Drive
Opponents of the proposal told the commission Monday that the new store will kill existing businesses, including the ShopRite supermarket across the street. Opponents also railed against Walmart's treatment of employees.
But PZC Chairman Joe Diminico said Tuesday that the panel's considerations do not include Walmart's business practices.
"Whether you aprove or disapprove of the way Walmart does business and its business model doesn't really fall into the purview of the PZC," Diminico said.
Instead, the commission is focused on whether the site will have adequate parking and the traffic the new business will generate, among other issues, Diminico said.
The commission on Monday heard from four different traffic engineers, including one hired by Walmart, another by owners of the ShopRite plaza and the town's traffic engineer, James Mayer. In some cases, the engineers' projections were widely different, but in the end, Diminico said, the commission must look to Mayer's testimony because he is representing the town and taxpayers and has no profit motive.
The applicant's traffic engineer estimated that on a weekday evening, the new Walmart would add 730 trips to the existing 291 trips to the site. For midday Saturday, the engineer estimated an additional 894 trips for a total of 1,327 trips. Mayer on Tuesday called those estimates reasonable. He also noted that Walmart has agreed to changes designed to prevent bottlenecks. But since Spencer Street is a state road, he said, the state Department of Transportation will have the final say on Walmart's plans and may demand more changes before approving the project.
The commission on Monday approved Walmart's inland wetlands and sedimentation and erosion control plans, but delayed a decision on a special exception. Walmart needs the special exception because the planned building site is more than four acres and the business will require more than 60 parking spaces.
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