Residents express concerns over new Walmart

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By Kenny Colston

A proposed Walmart Supercenter in Crestwood is drawing mixed reactions from residents closest to the new development.

The national retailer has proposed building a new supercenter at 6701 Highway 329 in Crestwood. The location is behind the Baptist Crestwood Medical Center on what’s also known as the 329 Bypass or Veterans Memorial Parkway.

At an informal meeting Monday for Crestwood residents, Deborah Bilitski, an attorney for Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs, who is representing Walmart, shed some light on the proposed store.

The store will be roughly 158,000 square feet, which is smaller than the La Grange Walmart. The new store will also require a zoning change due to the amount of square footage that will be housed in one facility, Bilitski said.

Walmart is also requesting the state put in a traffic signal at the 329 Bypass and Madison Park Place, Bilitski said.

But those potential traffic changes, as well as the size, location and possible design of the proposed retailer led to a host of questions from residents of the nearby Arbor Ridge subdivision and Madison Park condos.

Residents were concerned with increased traffic onto Madison Park Place, as well as a secondary entrance on Kenwood Crossing, which connects to Kenwood Station Elementary School.

Many residents wanted a light on the bypass at the entrance to Kenwood Station as well.

Bilitski said a traffic signal currently isn’t planned for that location, but such a decision would involve input from state officials as well as the Oldham County Board of Education.

“The traffic pattern really needs to be explored, because if there’s two intersections and one has a light, people will do the quicker route,” Angela Barondeau, an Arbor Ridge resident, said. “We’re all aware of the path of least resistance.”

Other residents questioned traffic flow out of the Madison Park condos combined with potential Walmart traffic.

“I don’t know how people are ever going to get out of those condos,” Ken Ashley said.

Bilitski said while plans are in place, the development is still open to suggestions.

“We’re open to all input at this time,” Bilitski said in response to traffic concerns.

Other residents rejected the proposed design of the Walmart, adding they would prefer brick or stone rather than a stucco facade, to keep up with other buildings in the area.

“Walmart does not get an A-plus in aesthetics,” Doug Payne, a resident of Arbor Ridge, said. “This is garbage.”

Payne later said he and his family moved to Crestwood to get away from retailers and shopping centers.

Sherri Latimer, a resident of Madison Park and a Kenwood Station parent, questioned whether Walmart was willing to compensate local property owners.

“What is Walmart going to do to compensate?” Latimer said. “This is going to devalue our property values.”

Bilitski disagreed the store would lower property values, adding there are no plans to compensate at this time.

Other concerns, in addition to traffic and designs, is the ability of the store to sell guns so close to Kenwood Station Elementary, as well as noise, signage and light issues.

But not everyone was critical of the development, with some praising the potential jobs the store would bring and the willingness of Walmart to hear concerns.

“They are not saying ‘screw you we’re going to do what we want to do,’ they’re trying to work with you,” Stacy Bellis, an Arbor Ridge resident said. “Try to keep an open mind. This will be a good thing in the long run.”

The proposed store could have as many as 300 jobs, with a mix of full and part-time. And if fully approved, construction could start by August, with a 10- to 12- month build time.

The potential for 300 new jobs was enough for one resident to support the project.

“It’s a place where they hire senior citizens, it’s a place where school kids can come for a job,” Brenda Schisster said. “It’s 300 jobs. We need jobs, we need entry-level jobs. So 300 jobs is a plus for Crestwood.”

Teresa Gamsky, director for the Oldham County Health Department, said the proposed supercenter would also help alleviate a “food desert” in the Crestwood area.

After requests by some to switch the design to a smaller Walmart Neighborhood Market, which is only a grocery store, due to size concerns and the necessity of a supercenter so close to schools in Crestwood, Bilitski said there are currently no plans to feature only the market, but she would pass the request to Walmart.

Bilitski added she is not aware of Walmart considering alternative sites in Crestwood.

“I’m not aware of it, but I can’t swear on it,” she said.

Bilitski said Walmart filed an initial application Monday and plans to go before the technical review committee on Jan. 15. That would place the zoning change before the Planning and Zoning Committee in late February and if approved, in front of the City of Crestwood by May, Bilitski said.

In order to help assure residents about major concerns of traffic and looks, Bilitski said she would plan to have additional community meetings, in addition to normal public comment periods the planning and zoning process affords.

“We’ve got time,” Bilitski said. “The reason we’re here is we want to get your feedback and hopefully by the time we get to the planning and zoning process, everyone will be in favor of it.”

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