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LETTER: Bel Air Man Supports Walmart Move

Walmart is a contentious issue in Bel Air.

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:

Dear Editor,

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.

Waltraut Neutze

Bel Air, MD 21015

David J. Wehage December 28, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I live in Constant Friendship and I can tell you that Wal-Mart is not the problem with our traffic. I believe it is the Chick-Fil-A. A man can't get in that place!
Tom Moscato December 29, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I agree with Mr Neutz. People that are opposed to this Walmart also opposed a mall at Constant Friendship, now look what we have. Their ancestor’s must have opposed the Inner Harbor. I enjoy all these close amenities. Enough NIMBY. And yes the traffic at Constant Friendship is horrible.
Susan Misey December 29, 2012 at 02:37 PM
I agree with you, Mr. Moscato. My sister fought to bring Windsor Mall to that property and all that they offered (including a ramp from I-95 to the mall and all the work to Rt 24 that was only just this year completed at taxpayer expense rather than the developer's expense.) Look what we have now, indeed. The property the Super Walmart wants will not sit vacant. Something will go in there. It might as well be something we all can use.
Hazzard Native December 29, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Prepare for the NIMBY onslaught. Personally, I can't wait for the new Wally World to open up and I plan on being there on opening day to buy a a big "scary looking" firearm, milk, bread, a new pack of socks, various toiletries, lawn care products, etc.
WhatIsIt? December 31, 2012 at 04:12 AM
I'm not sure what the deal is with the NIMBY, most of these people don't even own 1/4 acre of land. Not much of a "backyard" anyway, in a literal sense. One thing to complain if you have a nice view in rural farm land, but these people moved into Metro Harford County and expect it not to continue to build?
HB January 13, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Maybe he didn't notice the townhouses directly across the street from this property. Or maybe if they were looking to build a 24 hour Walmart across the street from him, he would feel differently. People in the area want their kids to be safe, and I don't think a 24 hour Walmart would be safe. And all the jobs it would bring? Yes, temporary construction work. After that, well who wants to work at Walmart?? Unless you're happy with part time, minimum wage, no benefits, and working thanksgiving.
Jack Palmer January 13, 2013 at 11:53 PM
I don't think that all those that oppose the new Walmart are considering all the low paying jobs the new store will bring. Or the acres of asphalt or what about that award winning Walmart architecture. Who can oppose a 24 hr. super store where you can buy all of those wonderful Chinese products at the lowest possible price. They were just included in the top 10 worst place to purchase groceries in the US.,so who could be against a Walmart even closer to the heart of Belair. I'll bet all the smaller business owners can't wait. Hey we'll do anything as long as we as consumers get that superstore lowest possible price.
helpussomeone January 16, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Keep the current store where it is and let Wal-Mart build a Neighborhood Market and call it a day. 40,000 sq ft instead of 180,000 sq ft. They can have their grocery store they want. They could then develop the rest of the area with smaller stores. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walmart_Market
Jbortner February 26, 2013 at 03:47 PM
I live right down the street from the proposed site and work at the Walmart in fallston. A lot of the crime that has happened in that area would've happened anyway. That store, which people also fought for years, has led to the expansion of fallston. Before, burger king was the only restaurant and there was only one terrible grocery store. Now most of the people in fallston can get most of the things they need without having to add to the traffic of Bel Air. I personally think a shiny new Walmart would be a good thing in comparison to the current location, Target stole the ground their store is on right out from under my family, we wanted to open a roller rink to give families a place to have fun with their childre. The two retailers have no business being next to each other.
Tracey October 13, 2013 at 10:40 AM
Well said, I agree 100%. I love having Walmart right down the street, the convenience is awesome and would hate to see it go, however, a Super Walmart would be Super. They already built Bel Air desidents a bridge to bypass the Constant Friendship intersection, which didnt help the Constant Friendship households much, but did you see us out with our picket signs? I think what people fail to see is, all the traffic isnt coming just from Walmart, come on people have some common sense, the traffic is coming from all the other businesses combined, trying to get out of a one road accesss. The Movies, BJ's, Target, Chick Felet, Kentucky Fried/Taco Bell, two storage locations and McDonalds. And as far as Christmas goes, have you been to the Tolgate shopping center????? It is busy everywhere on Christmas. I know, shop early and avoid the rush! So people of Bel Air, reach down and find that common sense button, I know you have it in you....sorry to see it go happy Walmart customer!
Marie Sheppard November 01, 2013 at 10:04 AM
I live there and if this happens it will be complete and total grid lock. We already sit through 4 traffic lights from Laurel Bush Rd to Ring Factory Rd 2 sometimes 3 times during high traffic times. I can not even imagine what it would be like when the schools along there let out between the kids in cars and the numerous school buses. The emergency vehicles located there will be hindered. It is a much smaller area then Constant Friendship or Fallston. Rt 924 is one lane each direction with a elementary, middle school and high school right there. Family homes sit right next to the proposed site. I will be selling if this happens as many of my neighbors will. There will be many available homes for those who are a fan of this proposal if they would like to live next to a Super Walmart.

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