City Approves Site Plan for New WalMart on Route 40

October 14, 2014 / / News

By Jen Fifield; Frederick News Post
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If all goes as planned, residents can expect to see Frederick Towne Mall on U.S. 40 bulldozed as soon as the spring to make way for a new Wal-Mart.

The city of Frederick’s Planning Commission approved Monday a developer’s site plan for Frederick Towne Center, which includes a 155,000-square foot building, to be occupied by Wal-Mart, and three other smaller commercial buildings on the 40-acre site near McCain Drive. Home Depot, Boscov’s and Ollie’s will stay.

The commission voted unanimously for Rockwood Capital’s plan, finding that the plan met the city’s requirements for the land, which includes 20 conditions set by the mayor and Board of Aldermen in July 2013 when they rezoned the land from mixed use to general commercial.

The officials set the conditions after hearing concerns from residents. They required certain roads and sidewalks to be connected, landscaping buffers, bicycle and walking paths, sheltered bus stops and certain building design elements.

In a perfect world, the plan for the space may be different, but that wasn’t for the commission to decide, said Meta Nash, commission chairwoman.

Nash said the developer had brought forward a very good plan, considering the restrictions on the site.

The developer will now work on construction and engineering plans and begin to obtain permits and approvals before bulldozing the site, said David Severn, an attorney representing Rockwood Capital.

Residents were concerned that the city did not need another Wal-Mart, as it has two already, one at 7400 Guilford Drive and one at 1811 Monocacy Blvd., and some said the plan did not meet the long-term vision for the neighborhood.

While the plan is not perfect, it’s the best plan for the area, Justin Kiska, president of the Golden Mile Alliance and owner of Way Off Broadway, told commission members Monday.

“I don’t think we will ever have the perfect plan,” he said. “It’s impossible. But this is the beginning. It’s the first step. It’s what we build on going forward.”

Residents, including two former alderwomen, Carol Krimm and Karen Young, told the commission Monday they were disappointed that the plan did not include a community center for nonprofit use.

Krimm and Young were on the Board of Aldermen when it approved the plan last year, and the board had discussed hopes for the community center on the land although they could not legally require it in the conditions.

“Please reconsider this,” Young said, speaking to the developer. “It’s the right thing to do. It’s very much needed.”

Commission member Barbara Nicklas said she was impressed with the plan.

“I think we are getting a lot,” she said.

The Wal-Mart will be built set back on the northern edge of the property. The plan includes a new road that cuts horizontally through the property for pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle use, added landscaping and trees, a walking path along the back of the Home Depot, another mixed-use path near Rock Creek, and a bridge leading to the neighborhood behind the development.

While the city had proposed a butterfly garden, the applicant said it would instead include a wildflower garden that would have educational placards to note the purpose of the facility and identify flora and fauna. There will also be opportunities for public art on the site.