Thursday, October 12, 2000

Wal-Mart hearing draws crowd

No action by council

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        FORT WRIGHT — About 200 people sat through presentations Wednesday night about how many vehicle trips a proposed Wal-Mart supercenter would generate per hour and the history of the land where it would be built.

        After 3 1/2 hours of a public hearing at St. Agnes Church, there no action by Fort Wright City Council.

        B&Z Development of Fort Wright wants to build the Valley Plaza Shopping Center on a 60-acre site near the intersection of Madison Pike between Highland Pike and Orphanage Road and near Interstate 275.

        A 204,000-square-foot Wal-Mart supercenter would anchor the site. Another 103,200 square feet of commercial space would be used for restaurants, banks, a video store and other shops.

        “Whatever comes out of this, nobody's going to be happy,” said Fort Wright resident Rod Eubank, 75.

        Brian Hooper, a Wal-Mart real estate manager from company headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., said construction on the supercenter could begin by next spring, with completion by fall 2001.

        Proponents of the new store, such as Mr. Eubank and his son and daugh ter-in-law, Fort Wright residents Bob Eubank, 53, and his wife, Linda, 46, want the Wal-Mart because of the tax money it would bring in.

        “It'll be more convenient, it'll help the tax base in Fort Wright,” the younger Mr. Eubank said. “It won't be all the homeowners (paying). There's already traffic. The developer proposed to build some access roads.”

        There is another Wal-Mart supercenter near Interstate 75 in Dry Ridge and two smaller stores on U.S. 27 in Alexandria and Houston Road in Florence. Mr. Hooper said the new store would not adversely affect the others.

        “I like Wal-Mart, and I want it close to my house,” Mrs. Eubank said. “I don't want to go to Florence to shop.”

        Rod Eubank agreed that a Wal-Mart is needed in Fort Wright.

        “I don't understand people who never want progress,” the elder Mr. Eubank said. “There's a Wal-Mart in Campbell County, there's one in Boone County. We need one in Kenton County.”

        The Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC) recommended approval of the Fort Wright development in August with a list of 18 conditions that include additional deceleration and turn lanes on Highland Pike, Orphanage Road and Madison Pike and sidewalks and curb cuts to all parts of the development.

        According to Mike Schwartz of the NKAPC, traffic volume at the center would be about 29,000 vehicles a day. The number could vary according to what was in the center.

        The center's opponents claim the Wal-Mart is too large and would worsen traffic problems.

        “I'm not against development,” Fort Wright resident Tom Litzler said. “The supercenter is different than a neighborhood center. A supercenter would draw business from 25 miles away.”

        Another Fort Wright resident, Betty White, didn't want the traffic.

        “You can't get out of the street,” Mrs. White said. “Now, you sit and sit and sit. It's ridiculous.”

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