Public hearing today on Remington Wal-Mart

Flood of emails to Planning Commission on eve of the meeting. "Allowing this to move forward will be the death of Old Goucher," says one critic.

map of walmart

Current site plan for the proposed Wal-Mart in Remington.

Photo by: Wal-Mart

The Baltimore Planning Commission is bracing for a large turnout this afternoon for a public hearing on the Wal-Mart-anchored 25th Street Station development proposed in Remington.

The technical issue at hand might sound dry, but stakeholders on all sides agree that the panel’s decision could have a long-lasting impact on the North Baltimore community and surrounding neighborhoods.

Wal-Mart and developer Rick Walker are seeking a “minor amendment” to the PUD (Planned Urban Development) granted for the retail project on an 11-acre parcel west of Howard and 25th streets.

Approval would mean that the long-dormant project, approved by the City Council in 2010, could move forward.

Opponents of the project argue that changes since 2010 in the design of the complex must be considered a “major amendment” requiring Planning Commission and, ultimately, City Council approval.

The loss of Lowe’s as an anchor store, the reconfiguration of entrances, and the demolition of an historic church to make way for a Wal-Mart loading dock and garden center are among the issues cited by neighborhood critics that the design changes are “major.”

The Planning Department staff, meanwhile, has called the changes minor, noting the lower density of the latest version of the project.

Critics cite the same lower “suburban-like” density as a reason why the project should undergo more scrutiny.

Citizen Comments: Some Excerpts

The Brew has received a flood of emails, cc-ing us with copies of testimony sent to the Planning Commission and other city officials on this subject.

Citizens from Remington, Historic Fawcett, Charles Village and Old Goucher have chimed in. Here’s an excerpt from a letter written by Old Goucher resident Kris Northrup:

“A decision to declare these changes ‘minor’ will deprived us citizens of our due process. The loss of the Lowe’s, the change in parking volume, the shift of the primary entrance to 24th Street, the lack of an updated traffic study, and the developers’ unwillingness to work with the community on anything other than superficial alterations represent drastic changes to the original plans,” Northup wrote.

“Allowing this to move forward as minor amendment will be the death of Old Goucher.”

And here’s the official position of the Old Goucher Community Association and Old Goucher Business Alliance, via Bruce Willen.

Meeting is taking place at 417 E. Fayette St. 8th floor.

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  • Jay

    Since the article didn’t list ANY info regarding the whereabouts of said hearing:

    417 E. Fayette St.

    8th floor

    • baltimorebrew

      Thanks much, added that info….

  • krisnorthrup

    yes, and the posted time for the meeting is 3 PM but it could possibly start earlier than that depending on how quickly agenda items move…..I’m thinking since it’s posted as 3 p.m. and it’s an official hearing, they have to wait til then but nonethelss, someone from the planning commission office told me it could be earlier. Brew, thanks for covering this!

  • James Hunt

    Is that really the current rendering? Wasn’t the parking structure taken out of the plan entirely?

    • baltimorebrew

      This is an early Oct. rendering showing all of the main components. And that’s a surface lot south of the store. Some recent tweaks: a “green” pathway thru the lot and more shrubs around the site.

      • James Hunt

        I could be misreading this, but it looks like there are stair towers, a “ramp to mezzanine” immediately southwest of Retail C2A and a driveway from 24th Street that runs smack into some parking spaces. So, this rendering seems to be representing a parking structure, or the funkiest surface lot ev-ah.

  • Andrew

    I hope The Brew keeps track of all the small businesses that go under after this store opens. What a terrible thing to allow.

    • MC2012

      “What a terrible thing to allow???” There are many good points, pro and con, regarding the design of this development, and the community is fairly divided, but this is a free country, people can spend their money how they want, We don’t get to “allow” or not allow a particular store. Like it or not, lots of people shop at wal mart, and right now they drive out to the suburbs to do their shopping. Even a crappy wal mart is better than a vacant car lot, and a step toward better things including lots of smaller scale investment in the surrounding neighborhood over the next few year

      • Andrew

        We as Americans DO get to decide what is in the public good.
        We disallow pornography for the young and guns for the law biding. New York City fought for decades keeping the giant money-sucking Walmart out of the boroughs. Communities matter and that’s what matter, not the rights of corporations. Mitt Romney (and you) are wrong. Corporations aren’t people.

        • James Hunt

          Money-sucking? Have you tried to buy clothes or a bike for your kids or consumer electronics on 36th Street or anywhere within within a couple-mile (i.e. walking distance) radius of the location of the 25th Street Station? What little (very, very little) is available is beyond the budget of a lot of Baltimoreans. 36th Street itself is charming and nice if you’re looking for art, antiques, hard-to-find publications, or a good (& pricey) meal, etc. But it’s long since stopped serving as a main street in the sense of offering day-to-day needs.

    • James Hunt

      … And all the new businesses that open, taking advantage of the shoppers Walmart attracts and selling the many items Walmart _doesn’t_ carry in its stores. Plus, I can’t be the only person in town who shops at Walmart and has taken advantage of the outstanding book binding service Kelmscott Books on 25th Street offers.

    • Matthew Danowski

      Wal-Mart continues to attract shoppers because they can provide much lower prices than smaller competitors. That is their business model. In a city with such a large population of economically disadvantaged people, I would think that providing a low cost retailer so more people can afford basic items would be a good thing.

      Not everyone can afford to shop at local, organically grown, fair trade, small businesses. I think some people in the wealthier sections of town forget this.

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