Walmart receives final approval from Crestwood council

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By Kenny Colston

Walmart will once again have a store in Crestwood, after the city council approved a proposed SuperCenter store on Veterans Memorial Parkway at a special meeting April 16.

The Crestwood City Council approved an ordinance rezoning the property at 6701 Veterans Memorial Parkway, also known as Highway 329 Bypass, as well as a development plan for the Walmart, unanimously.

Kevin Thompson, public affairs director for Walmart, said there currently isn’t a date set to break ground on the new development, since final approval just came from the Crestwood council.

But he noted it takes roughly 10 months to construct a new store and that the process to find a contractor to build would begin soon.

Thompson was also complimentary of the planning and zoning process to get the store approved, as well as the community.

“We’re very appreciative of the community and the deliberate process here in Oldham County and Crestwood,” Thompson said after the council meeting.

During the three hour special meeting, representatives for Walmart made their case to the council for approval, while several Crestwood residents argued against it.

Deborah Bilitski, an attorney representing Walmart, argued the new store fit in perfectly with the planned commercial development on the property, if not better than previous proposals. Bilitski noted the SuperCenter will take up less square footage, have less parking spaces and will be more environmentally conscious than previous commercial proposals for the site.

The space will house a 158,583 square foot SuperCenter, which includes a grocery, pharmacy, auto center and more. There will be two out lots to the north of the store, one Walmart owns and will not develop initially and the other retained by the original property owner.

And Bilitski shot down rumors of a potential gas station on the Walmart out lot.

“There’s been some concern about whether there would be a gas station on that out lot, but there are no plans currently or in the future for that,” she said.

In addition to Walmart’s own defense of the proposal, Maryann Grantz, president of the Madison Park Condo Homeowners Association, spoke in support of the development.

“The Madison Park Community is satisfied Walmart is making an effort to screen their development,” she said. “The board of directors has no objections to Walmart’s proposed plan and welcome them to the community.”

Previously, the Madison Park Homeowners Association had not taken a stance on the development, while individual residents had publicly opposed it. But after Walmart agreed to pay $32,000 to put in new landscaping as a buffer between the condos and the new SuperCenter, the homeowners association voted to approve an agreement and support the development.

The other main residential part of the area, Arbor Ridge subdivision, remained opposed and several residents spoke after the development to the council.

“We’re worried a change from C-3 to C-4 (zoning) will set a precedent for the whole corridor,” David Hettinger, a spokesman for the Arbor Ridge Homeowners Association, said. “What we envisioned (on that property) was very specific. I’m not saying it has to be a Kroger or nothing, but a vision was pitched to us. And I don’t feel a Walmart matches that vision.”

Residents opposing the development said increased traffic, crime issues and proximity to Kenwood Station Elementary School were major reasons to oppose the new Walmart. They also listed sound and light pollution, as well as what they consider a poor building design.

Those opposed wanted several binding elements placed on Walmart, if given approval. But of the half a dozen changes critics wanted, only one was approved by the council: a reduction in a sign on the outskirts of the property from 45 feet to a maximum of 35 feet.

After three hours of testimony, the council approved the new Walmart, which is making a return after moving out of Crestwood several years ago. The council approved a rezoning of the property from C-3 commercial to C-4 highway service commercial on a 3-1 vote, with councilman Clayton Stoess Sr. the lone no vote. With the amended binding elements, the council approved the store’s development plan 4-0, as well as both elements together as one ordinance, 4-0.

After the vote, Hettinger said he was disappointed in the outcome.

“I expected approval, but I was hopeful they would adopt some of our binding elements,” he said.

Hettinger’s original proposal was for a momument sign, no higher than 20 feet. He said the council’s compromise approval of a sign no higher than 35 feet wasn’t a small victory.

“Not at all,” he said. “It’s just a shorter ugly sign.”

Having successfully received a rezoning and approval for all legislative bodies concerned on a development plan, Thompson said Walmart is ready to roll back into Crestwood.

“The staff and everyone who worked on the project was thoughtful… now we have to make sure we hold up our end of the bargain and bring a quality store to this area,” he said.

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