Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Neighbors Fight Wal-Mart; Plan: 24-Hour Market on Atlantic Site

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Neighbors Fight Wal-Mart; Plan: 24-Hour Market on Atlantic Site

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Staff writer

About 130 residents packed into Love Grove Elementary School this week to object to Wal-Mart's plan to build a Neighborhood Market grocery that would be open round-the-clock and include a pharmacy and liquor store.

Wal-Mart has an 8-acre site under contract at Atlantic Boulevard and Bartram Road across from Publix. The property has been vacant since Hope Haven Children's Hospital was torn down several years ago.

City Councilwoman Lynette Self, whose district adjoins the proposed market, held a public meeting Monday night to get input.

Only a handful attending said they supported the project, which would be Jacksonville's first Neighborhood Market. Those opposed said they want to sleep in their homes without earplugs. They said it would throw too much traffic on their already overburdened streets, pose a safety hazard and lower property values. They feared it would adversely impact Publix.

One man said Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon groups meet at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Atlantic Boulevard, "next door to where you want to put the liquor store."

Another resident said she has her home for sale. Kelly Jackson, who lives next to the vacant site, said she and her husband planned to remodel but decided to sell after learning of Wal-Mart's plans.

The property is zoned for commercial, residential and office uses. The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain is seeking to rezone the property as a planned-unit development but wants community comment before filing the request. With a PUD, the neighborhood can work with the developer to get concessions on landscaping, buffers and other matters, Self said.

The market would be just under 40,000 square feet, roughly the size of the Publix and smaller than the chain's traditional Supercenters.

The liquor store is proposed for the side closest to Atlantic, Karl Sanders, a Jacksonville attorney representing Wal-Mart on the zoning change, said in response to a resident's question. …

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