Walmart Neighborhood Market clears 1st hurdle for Celanese store in Rock Hill

adouglas@heraldonline.comJanuary 8, 2014 

Walmart plans to build a 42,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market grocery store at the corner of Celanese and Ebinport roads in Rock Hill.

— The Rock Hill Planning Commission signed off Tuesday night on Walmart's plan to build a 42,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market grocery store at the corner of Celanese and Ebinport roads.

Walmart’s development plan for the “Celanese Station” shopping center also calls for building a gas station, a 217-space parking lot and about 11,000 square-feet of other shops. To accommodate the new development, part of Ebinport Road would need to be re-routed.

Neighborhood Market stores focus primarily on grocery sales, but include some hardware, pet products and a pharmacy.

Three commissioners voted in favor of the Celanese Station plan on Tuesday, with commissioner Jeff Greene dissenting. Two members were absent and one recused himself from the discussion and vote.

Before Walmart and its developers can begin construction of the shopping center, the City Council will have to vote twice to approve. A first vote on the plan is expected later this month.

For nearly three months, residents who live near the site of the proposed store have raised concerns. Some residents said Tuesday that, after initially having doubts, they’re now on board with Celanese Station because the company’s developer has made several changes to the plans.

Walmart has agreed to build a six-foot high, solid wood fence along one of the commercial area’s borders to create a buffer for several ad- jacent homes in the Swan Meadows subdivision.

The company also now plans to leave many mature trees along the neighborhood’s border with the Walmart site to create a substantial barrier. Two rows of 15-foot mature trees also will be added.

To ease residents’ concerns about traffic around the store, the developer has earned state Department of Transportation approval to reduce Ebinport Road’s speed limit to 30 mph.

Developer Steve West of Halpern Enterprises said he has been diligent about being “honest, respectful and available” to those residents whose homes are close to the site of the proposed store.

Still, more than a dozen residents voiced opposition to the new shopping center on Tuesday. One man presented a petition signed by more than 530 people, many of whom said they live closest to the proposed development.

Two people spoke in favor of the development plan.

West next will ask the Rock Hill City Council to approve a rezoning and annexation request for site of the proposed development, which sits just outside the city limits.

The rezoning component of the request would allow for multiple business uses on land that currently is zoned for a single-family home with several acres of undeveloped property surrounding it. Part of Celanese Station’s 14-acre site would include property where a daycare once operated.

Rock Hill leaders have said the annexation, if approved, would not affect the Swan Meadows subdivision, which also sits just outside the city limits.

Those speaking against the plan on Tuesday cited a range of concerns, from fears the new development would negatively affect nearby home values to its becoming an eyesore.

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