Bel Air, MD. Wal-Mart Cannibalizes Area With Another Superstore
"I really don't understand," one reader told The Aegis newspaper, "why we need yet another Wal-Mart? I can drive to the Bel Air Road one in about 15 mins or the Aberdeen one or Abingdon one in 25 mins. I mean seriously, 4 walmarts within 30 to 35 minutes of each other. Isn't there a law about businesses and how close they can open up to each other? I thought there was something about how many of one name you can have within a particular area. Can you say monopoly?"
The comment above followed the announcement this week that Wal-Matt plans to construct a huge, 185,706 s.f. superstore on 16.7 acres of land just of Bel Air, Maryland. Concept plans were submitted by the giant retailer this week to Harford County planning and zoning officials. There are already 8 Wal-Mart stores within 29 miles of this site--half of them are superstores. A superstore in Fallston, Maryland is 4 miles away, the Aberdeen supserstore is 12 miles away. This would be the 4th Wal-Mart in Harford County.
The 157,435 s.f. Wal-Mart superstore in Fallston is only about 18 months old. It has been suggested that the new superstore proposal would cause the "old" Wal-Mart discount store 6 miles away in Abingdon to shut down. That nearby store is 19 years old--close to the limit for a Wal-Mart store.
The public will soon have a chance to air its opinions on this superfluous store at a public meeting on July 19th, which county officials says is "for the applicant to provide information to the community regarding the proposed commercial development (including draft plans for the site layout) and to allow citizens to ask questions and make comments and suggestions."
This parcel used to be high density residential, but in 2009 was rezoned dramatically to high density commercial. Wal-Mart has remained mum on the project, refusing to comment publicly on its plans.
According to The Aegis newspaper, a county councilman told the media that "residents are alarmed about it, especially with the prospect of more gridlock in a heavily traveled corridor that includes the local high school."
What you can do: Another local resident commented on The Aegis story, "They aren't going to keep the Abingdon store open if they build this one." Another reader said, "I grew up off of Plumtree Road and recently moved back...It makes me sick to see what they've done, so much concrete, everything paved . . . its so disgusting and sad that we citizens have no choice."
Readers who understand that citizens DO have a choice are urged to email Harford County Council President "Billy" Boniface at: firstname.lastname@example.org with the following message:
"Dear President Boniface,
Wild horses couldn't drag me to shop at the proposed Wal-Mart supercenter on Plumtree Road. This project is totally superfluous, and will not create any new wealth or jobs for the county. What it will do is shut down the Abingdon store, and force workers there to apply for their jobs at the new superstore.
This proposal is not about market need, but corporate greed. It's all about Wal-Mart market share. Ironically, this store will eat into Wal-Mart's own same store sales. This company has over built so many stores that its new units cannibalize its existing stores, adn the result is not a form of economic development.
The County should not approve a store of this scale near residential property. This land was zoned residential until 2009---and whatever is built there now should be compatible with the residential character of the community. These huge superstores are approaching their Ice Age, and one day in the not too distant future, Harford County will be trying to sell these empty monuments to greed to anyone who will tear them down.
Now is the time to stop this project."