Winston-Salem council approves plan for Walmart grocery

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A Walmart grocery store on Country Club Road near Meadowlark Drive won unanimous approval Monday night from the Winston-Salem City Council.

People living nearby who had earlier opposed the store came out Monday to back it, after the developers made a series of plan improvements with the input on concerned neighbors.

Sue Burden, who lives in the Century Oaks subdivision, said that she hopes Walmart will keep its promise to be a “good neighbor.” Burden, a member of the group Meadowlark District Neighborhood Alliance, said the group strongly supported the modified proposal.

Among the provisions that developers have agreed to are requirements relating to street improvements on Country Club Road, the appearance of the grocery store and any other businesses that build on the site, and plantings and other site improvements.

On Country Club Road, the developer will extend the left turn lane from Country Club eastbound to Meadowlark Drive by 300 feet, giving the turning lane a total length of 450 feet. The extension would allow about 25 more cars to line up in the left turn lane to turn north onto Meadowlark Drive.

The work will also include lengthening the left turn lane for southbound traffic on Meadowlark turning left onto Country Club.

Within the shopping area, developers have agreed to make sure that any buildings that go up on separate lots near the store to be designed similarly to the grocery store. The grocery store plans were revised to give the store façade a brick and stone exterior.

The developers have also agreed to lighting that limits the height of light poles and the amount of light that is visible at the property line.

In addition to the planting of extra trees for screening, the developers have agreed to install a fountain in the storm water retention pond.

The developers also agreed to limit the size of buildings on two lots near an apartment complex.

The rezoning that allows the store to go forward was actually a change from an earlier plan that called for an even bigger store on the site. That rezoning, approved in 1998, called for a 71,000 square foot building, as opposed to the 41,000 square-foot building that has now been approved.

The Meadowlark District Neighborhood Alliance, which worked with the developers on the revised plans, said in a release that although the revisions won’t solve all traffic problems, they represent more than $1 million in road improvements that are not currently budgeted in city or state budgets.

The neighborhood group also said that developers agreed to put in the road improvements before the shopping center opens.

Kurt Lents, a member of the group, told the council Monday that the road problems are severe enough to warrant a stop to future development in the area until they are solved.

After the vote, Walmart issued a statement calling attention to the size of the store – which will be much smaller than a Walmart “superstore” and about the size of other grocery stores in the area.

“We’re excited about bringing new jobs to Winston-Salem and new shopping options for our customers,” said Bill Wertz, a spokesman for Walmart. “This smaller-format store will provide convenient access to fresh produce, other groceries and pharmacy items.”

Council Member Robert Clark, who organized neighborhood meetings to iron out differences between the developers and people in the neighborhood, said that the traffic problem at the intersection of Meadowlark Drive and Country Club Road is “probably the worst traffic situation in West Ward,” but pointed out that both streets are state-maintained roads.

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