Thursday, August 24, 2000

Oct. soonest for Wal-Mart decision

Fort Wright will hold hearing first

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT WRIGHT — After months of discussion, Fort Wright City Council could decide the fate of a proposed Wal-Mart SuperCenter on Oct. 11.

        Earlier this month, the Kenton County and Municipal Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that Fort Wright officials approve construction of a 204,184-square foot Wal-Mart SuperCenter at Ky. 17 and Highland Pike.

        Council has scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. Oct. 11 in the St. Agnes Church undercroft to give interested parties their say and introduce any new information on the project, said Fort Wright Administrator Larry Klein. After hearing from residents, developers, abutting property owners and others, council will recess the hearing, and reconvene to discuss and possibly vote on the project.

        “I would think there's a good possibility that there will be (a vote) that night,” said Fort Wright Mayor Gene Weaver. “That's our intention at this time, unless something comes up that we're totally unprepared for.”

        Council can approve the recommendation of the county planning body, reject it, or approve it with certain conditions.

        Representatives of Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, and Jim Berling, a developer and engineer from Fort Wright, want to build the Wal-Mart and 12 smaller retail businesses on 64 acres off Ky. 17 between Orphanage Road and Highland Pike.

        In petitions being circulated in Fort Wright, opponents say the project would adversely affect traffic and property values, as well as the quality of life that Fort Wright residents currently enjoy, said attorney Patrick Hughes. He and co-counsel, Mark Guilfoyle, represent about 10 families opposing construction of the SuperCenter.

        A recent traffic impact study paid for by the developer said that more traffic lights, additional turn lanes and an access road should meet the needs of a proposed SuperCenter and address existing traffic problems. However, opponents say the study is too limited in scope, and proposes that state highway officials make certain improvements that aren't guaranteed.


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