Controversy surrounding a proposed Bel Air Walmart began in 2011 when potential plans for a Route 924 and Plumtree Road location first came to the public's attention.
Some members of the community have voiced their disapproval of Walmart's proposed move from Abingdon to the Bel Air location both verbally and in writing. There are also some who are pleased about the change.
Waltraut Neutze, who has lived in Bel Air for a quarter of a century, and is among those in favor of the proposed Walmart superstore.
You can find Neutze's letter in full here:
I am a Harford County resident and have lived in Bel Air for over 25 years. During that time I've seen many changes to the community. Most for the better. When I moved here, Rt. 24 was just opening up, there were no stop lights and was meant to handle some of the traffic that was using Rt. 924. There was Harford Mall and Tollgate Mall, few restaurants , fast food service, few grocery stores and limited retail shops. In the past years the area has grown extremely fast. One development after the other went up as fast as you could blink. About 20 years ago there was an article in the paper regarding all the developing and Harford County wanted to limit the developing. This of course did not happen. With all the developing came people, with all the people came traffic and overcrowding of schools. The good news is that with all the developing came more needed tax revenue and more jobs.
It took awhile, but eventually came more restaurants, more retail, more grocery stores, fast food and more schools. This brought jobs and revenue to the county. What was lacking behind were the roadways. Eventually stop lights were installed on Rt. 24 at the crossroads. This had a significant impact on reducing accidents as well as the flow of traffic. Turn lanes were put in and of course the major undertaking of the intersection of Rt. 24 and Tollgate Rd. Even with the improvements to the intersection, during high traffic hours it is difficult and unsafe to go straight on Rt. 24 towards Edgewood due to the I95 ramp. Also, Constant Friendship Blvd. has only one way in and one way out. If there is a major accident or disaster on Constant Friendship Blvd. or even at the intersection at Tollgate Rd., it could prevent people from getting out of the area. Having Walmart move from its current location to Plumtree Rd. would greatly improve the traffic and safety issues for Constant Friendship Blvd. and Tollgate Rd.
The new location is zoned for this type of retail developement. There are no homes next door or across the street. I believe it to be a good location. Most negative remarks against the move are due to the traffic situation on Rt. 924. If the county would grant access from Rt. 924, Plumtree Rd., Belair South Pkwy. and Rt. 24 I believe it would not have the impact that most people fear. If Walmart and Festival Shopping Center had access from Rt. 24, all the people from Edgewood and Bel Air would stay on Rt. 24 to that shopping center and not tie up the traffic on Plumtree Rd., Belair South Pkwy. and Wheel Rd. between Rt. 24 and Rt. 924. We have to stop treating the corridor of Rt. 24 between Rt.40 and Rt. 1 like a thruway, instead treat it like it is, a busy boulevard.
The new Super Walmart would have groceries and open 24 hrs. This would give more competition to other grocery stores in the area and help us, the consumer. A project of this magnitude would provide work for dozens of workers in the area while under construction and will also bring more permanent jobs to the community and more tax revenue.
In this economy most households have two incomes. We are busy people working and taking care of our homes and children. We like fast food or restaurants when we are on the move or running short on time. We like 24 hr. stores so that we may purchase items needed late at night. We like easy. We like convenience. We want Super Walmart.
Bel Air, MD 21015