Wal-Mart abandons plans for store at site on Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills

October 12, 1994|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,Sun Staff Writer

Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, has given up on its plans to build a store at Reisterstown Road and Dolfield Boulevard in Owings Mills.

But a spokesman for the company said yesterday that Wal-Mart will look for another location in northwestern Baltimore County.

The announcement was good news to opponents of the store, including Joe Little, whose new home is near the site that Wal-Mart had proposed.

"I think it's absolutely wonderful. . . . We're happy that they finally saw the light," he said yesterday.

Wal-Mart, with sales of $55.5 billion last year, had an option to purchase the property on the south side of Reisterstown Road but let it lapse Monday because of unresolved traffic considerations and difficulty in purchasing negotiations, according to spokesman Frank Howard.

"We weren't far enough along to make things worth extending our option," he said.

The 16-acre, wooded property on Reisterstown Road was rezoned for major business in 1988, a classifica tion appropriate for a 149,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store. Next door is the community of Pleasant Hills, where about 300 townhouses have been built since 1989.

Mr. Howard said Wal-Mart had been considering the proposed location for a year and a half and was negotiating with the owner but "did not come to any satisfactory agreement."

Wal-Mart also needed permits from Baltimore County and the State Highway Administration, neither of which had been obtained, according to SHA spokesman John Healy. He said yesterday that his agency had not received written notification of Wal-Mart's change in plans.

Mr. Howard said the retailer, which has 1,800 stores around the country and more than a dozen in Maryland, hopes to settle on a new site by the end of the year.

Mr. Howard said the northwest side of the county, which includes the Owings Mills growth area, needs a Wal-Mart.

"We've already started looking around," he added. "We think there's a gap we can fill."

Community residents aggressively opposed the chain's plan for the Reisterstown Road site.

TTC "Our biggest concerns were traffic," said Mr. Little, who was afraid that the 8,000 additional cars the Wal-Mart was expected to attract daily would snarl traffic, increase crime and endanger children who attend an elementary school about a mile away.

When asked if that opposition influenced Wal-Mart's decision, Mr. Howard said, "Absolutely not. We were going to pursue this )) fully." In fact, he said, there was some support from the community.

After residents complained that Wal-Mart was not listening to their concerns, County Councilman C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III convened a meeting between store officials and residents in March.

"I think they listened to the community's concerns," Mr. Ruppersberger said.

Mr. Little said he was ecstatic about the news. "We don't care whether it was luck, or Dutch and all his work, but we're just happy they decided to look elsewhere," he said.

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