Harford County Executive David Craig issued a statement Tuesday opposing Walmart's proposed move from an existing Abingdon location to a new site in Bel Air.
Walmart has proposed a 185,706 sq. ft. location at the intersection of Plumtree Road and Emmorton Road, or MD Route 924, in Bel Air. If the new store opens, the location in Constant Friendship will close and all the employees will move to the new store.
The plan for the Bel Air location was met with backlash from the community back in 2011, with residents along the Route 924 corridor holding meetings and expressing opposition to the Harford County Council.
The opposition base remains strong against Walmart, with one online petition gaining 400 signatures. A recent informational meeting held at Patterson Mill High School drew more than 800 people, many of whom were vocal against the project.
"While Walmart can, by right under the law, develop this property, I stand with our citizens and urge Walmart to reconsider plans to relocate from Abingdon to Bel Air," Craig said in his statement (view Craig's full statement below).
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The following is the county executive's unedited statement:
“Harford County Government has been officially notified by representatives of Walmart of their interest in relocating from the current location at Constant Friendship near Abingdon to a site on Plumtree Road near Bel Air. The proposal includes plans for a Walmart Supercenter at the Bel Air location, which is a significant expansion beyond the size of the current store.
“I have serious concerns regarding the proposed construction of a Walmart at the site discussed. It is in my opinion the wrong location and not characteristic of the smaller type of retail we had hoped would complement the existing community shopping centers in the area. But more importantly, I have serious concerns about how the proposed project will impact traffic and public safety.
“I feel that it would in the long run be better for the county if Walmart were to re-invest in their Constant Friendship location. All too often, we are quick to abandon older facilities and communities in favor of new locations without looking at ways to revitalize what we already have. Now that the state has put the finishing touches on the new interchange at 24 and 924, the traffic situation in that area has improved greatly, and the current location is much better equipped to handle the volume of traffic that a store such as Walmart generates.
“While Walmart can, by right under the law, develop this property, I stand with our citizens and urge Walmart to reconsider plans to relocate from Abingdon to Bel Air. My administration is interested in working with Walmart to find a more amenable solution that will allow them to expand at their current Constant Friendship/Abingdon location. I encourage citizens to stay engaged in this process and to let their voices be heard. I hope that we can work together on a plan that is better for our citizens and our community.”