East-side residents protest proposed Walmart

06/09/2014 4:36 PM

06/09/2014 4:37 PM

Few things pique the interest of Mansfield residents more than those frequent announcements of new restaurants and shopping opportunities heading to town.

Early plans for a new Walmart in east Mansfield, though, have piqued a different kind of interest.

Leaders of several subdivisions along North Holland Road and East Broad Street are rallying their neighbors against what could be a 175,000-square-foot Walmart superstore on 20 acres almost completely bordered by residential subdivisions and Danny Jones Middle School. The opponents say they are concerned about how the store could affect traffic, noise, light pollution and crime, and they’re pushing an online petition that had more than 1,400 signatures Monday.

“We’re not against the commercial rezoning of that land,” said Preston Horn, president of the Meadow Glen homeowners association, one of eight subdivision HOAs challenging the Walmart plans. “We’re against the big-box, 24-hour retail at that intersection. The homes here belong to people who wanted to move away from traffic like that.”

Walmart has submitted no plans to the city, said City Planning Director Felix Wong, but he expects a rezoning application from the company in July. The plans then would be evaluated by the city staff and presented for a recommendation by the Planning and Zoning Commission and final action by the City Council. Approval of the rezoning would require three separate votes of the council.

Wong said Walmart has contracted to purchase 20-plus acres, and he expects the store would face north, behind a small existing shopping center in the southeast corner of Holland and Broad.

Wong said commercial development in that area should not be a surprise to anyone because of the city’s years of preparation for the development of the high school football stadium and some of the first subdivisions in the area.

“East Broad Street and Holland road is a major intersection,” Wong said. “It’s likely going to see more commercial activity than what we see today.”

Horn said he learned of the Walmart plan during a meeting with city street officials on the construction progress on the extension of Grand Meadow Boulevard from near Holland eastward to Day Miar Road.

The road would form the southern border of the large rectangle of undeveloped property, where the Walmart would build. The opposition group highlights the entire property on his website – www.stopthenewWalmart.com – but Wong emphasizes that contracted 20 acres makes up only part of that property.

Because the petition is online, at www.change.org, anyone can sign, and many people beyond Mansfield have done so. A number of people are from Grand Prairie, where hundreds of homes in the southwest sector of the city lie within a few blocks of the potential Walmart site.

Horn said he believes the store would be more successful and face less resistance if it were to be built along the nearby Texas 360 corridor.

Ginnie Bucek, president of the Lowe’s Farm subdivision’s HOA, points out the site is near three schools and directly across Holland Road from the school district’s natatorium and stadium, all of which contribute to vehicle traffic in that area.

“Most of the concerns are that we are a residential area,” said Bucek, whose 430-home subdivision lies in the northeast quadrant of the Holland-Broad intersection. “And there are so many subdivisions that are going to be affected by it, so the quality of life is, I think, what they are concerned about.”

For years before the Walmart plan popped up, the city has been working to expand extend and roadways to relieve current and future traffic congestion in east Mansfield.

“It was really growth driven,” said city transportation enginer David Boski. “That’s when all the subdivisions were coming in on the east side.”

A $4 million project is under way to convert East Broad Street from a two-lane road with bar ditches into a four-lane, divided concrete street from Holland Road to Day Miar, about three-fourths of a mile. The improvements are expected to be finished in August. It’s the last project from the 2004 bond election, Boski said.

The $2.4 million construction of Grand Meadows from Holland to Day Miar started in December and is scheduled for completion by the end of September.

Holland Road has been improved to a four-lane divided thoroughfare from Broad to Grand Meadow. The next phase will match those improvements going south a half-mile and realign Holland to eliminate a wide jog to the east. Its course would straighten and run along the east border of the Waterford Park subdivision and 900 feet beyond. That $3.3 million project is scheduled to begin in 2016, year three of the current bond program, but those plans could change, Boski said.

“We are going to talk to the council and try and move that up into year two, which would be next year,” he said.

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