Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Citizens Group Supports Building; Advisory Panel Backs Wal-Mart

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Citizens Group Supports Building; Advisory Panel Backs Wal-Mart

Article excerpt

Byline: Ann Luce, River City News correspondent

A Wal-Mart store proposed for Atlantic Boulevard and Bartram Road that has received stiff neighborhood opposition got the backing of the Arlington/Beaches Citizens Planning Advisory Committee week.

The 40,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market, which would be on 8 acres where the old Hope Haven Children's Hospital once stood, would include a grocery and drive-through pharmacy, and has been designed to blend in with its surrounding environment. As part of the proposal, no liquor stores or gas stations could be included in the construction because of protests from local churches and advocacy groups. Wal-Mart, however, will be allowed to sell beer and wine.

The committee agreed at its Aug. 11 meeting at the Regency Square branch library to send a letter to district City Council members and Mayor John Peyton supporting construction of the store.

So far, area residents have been mostly cold to the project, complaining about potential noise, traffic, safety hazards and possible lower property values.

"You are going to run into resistance," Wal-Mart representative Karl Sanders said at the meeting. "People resist change, but you have to put your best foot forward. The site is going to be developed. The question is, what would you like to go there?"

Construction on the site, which has been vacant since 1994 and sits across from a Publix supermarket, would also help improve the surrounding area, according to Sanders. Improvements on Bartram Road, including a newer turning lane and signage, would be added.

In addition to discussion about the possible new Wal-Mart, the committee welcomed Councilwoman Pat Lockett-Felder from District 7 to its meeting.

Lockett-Felder said she wanted to help all people, not just those in her district.

"I know people," she said. …

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