Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wal-Mart Will Consider Adding Buffer; It Would Require Amending the Mediation Settlement with Neptune Beach

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wal-Mart Will Consider Adding Buffer; It Would Require Amending the Mediation Settlement with Neptune Beach

Article excerpt

Byline: DREW DIXON

NEPTUNE BEACH - While Wal-Mart has settled with city government on plans to build a 117,000-square-foot Supercenter, residents who live just south of the site are still angling for a new buffer between the store and their neighborhood.

Wal-Mart attorney Karl Sanders acknowledged to the city this month that the retailer is still discussing building a fence or wall behind the site in the 600 block of Atlantic Boulevard. A chain link fence, small earthen berm and a retention pond already separate the vacant 148,000-square-foot building from residents who live along Cherry Street.

"We have met with some of the neighbors behind the retention pond and they have advised us that they would prefer to have the vegetation cleaned out and a wall installed in its place," Sanders stated in an e-mail.

Wal-Mart and the city agreed to a development permit only after mediation following the City Council's original rejection of the application, which followed hundreds of residents' opposition to the Supercenter. The mediation agreement did not require the retailer to build any special wall and Sanders had said it wouldn't be necessary because truck deliveries will be made on the west side of the store once the current structure is demolished and the new Supercenter is constructed in about a year. A Scotty's, Food Lion and clothing outlet store used to operate in the vacant complex.

"However, we have advised them [residents] we would consider their request," stated Sanders. He said if Wal-Mart agrees to build the barrier, they'd need formal approval from the City Council to amend the mediation settlement.

In the Cherry Street neighborhood lined with brick homes, some with front-porch pillars and manicured landscaping, residents are skeptical about the Wal-Mart promises.

"They put a barrier over here at Scotty's and it didn't help any," Fred St. Clair said Friday in the front yard of his Cherry Street home. "You could still hear the noise. The city down here doesn't care about these people here."

David Elias said Wal-Mart hasn't contacted him at his Cherry Street home, although he understands some other neighbors have talked to the retailer. …

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