Bel Air, MD. Wal-Mart Is Gone, and Landowner wants No ore Big Boxes
On July 7, 2012, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart planned to construct a 185,706 s.f. superstore on 16.7 acres of land just of south of Bel Air, Maryland. Concept plans were submitted to the 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 superstore is 12 miles away. This would be the 4th Wal-Mart in Harford County.
In November 2015, Walmart said it would no longer pursue the proposed Bel Air South store, after being "unable to reach agreement on an additional extension of the contract to purchase the site…and are no longer pursuing a relocation to that property,"
This was a great relief to the citizens group that fought the project from the start. Opponents cited serious traffic concerns, and urged Wal-Mart instead to simply expand one of its existing stores nearby—an idea that Wal-Mart rejected.
This week, the Baltimore Sun reported that the foundation which controls this 35 acre parcel wants nothing more to do with big box stores. "The property, at this time, is not under contract with anyone, and there have been numerous discussions with various individuals who are interested in the property," a spokesman for the landowner said, adding that they had already turned way other big box suitors. Instead the owner is considering mixed use development.
Wal-Mart tried to convince Harford County to change its traffic mitigation requirements for the retailer---but that idea was opposed by the Bel Air South Community Foundation. Wal0-Mart charged that the county was going beyond its zoning code against the store. But the county planner told the Sun: "My advice to whoever comes in [next] would be to do some homework on their own and see what the community wants to see.”
Now that Wal-Mart is dead, local residents are pushing anew for why the area needs more big development. "Why does Harford County need more development…we have development after development going up,” one resident told the newspaper.
Just across Route 924 from the former Walmart site, the 198-unit Avanti Luxury Apartments is set to open this summer, according to its website.
What you can do: Conventional wisdom says citizens are wasting their time to battle Wal-Mart. But Bel Air, Maryland demonstrates that homeowners can--and do often---win.
For more background on this site of a Wal-Mart defeat, go to: