• Neighbors band together to protest construction on new Walmart

    By: Greg Suskin

    Updated:

    ROCK HILL, S.C. - Dozens of neighbors in Rock Hill are banding together to stop a Walmart store from going up right behind them.

    However, this is no typical Walmart. It's a lot smaller. Still, neighbors like Sarah Morgan told Channel 9 that doesn't matter.

    "Any store that's open for 24 hours, I think, creates concerns for a neighborhood," she said.

    Morgan has lived in the Swan Meadows Community off India Hook Road for more than 30 years. Now, her neighbors are circulating a petition to get Walmart and the city to listen.

    The proposed Walmart store is a neighborhood market. It's only about a quarter of the size of a Super Center, at about 45,000 square feet, and will employ fewer than a hundred people.

    The store is planned in a wooded area on Celanese Road between Ebinport and Ebinwood roads. The section of Ebinport road that runs behind it will be closed, and instead, traffic will turn onto to Ebinwood Road, where a new traffic light is planned.

    Neighbors told Channel 9 they're shocked at the chosen location because it's mostly residential, and had until now, escaped the rapid development of the area.

    "It's only going to make things worse," said Donnie Craig, whose father lives on Ebinport behind the proposed site. He said there are too many other Walmarts close by.

    "To me it's totally ridiculous, because there's one 2 miles down the road, and 5 miles the other way there's another Walmart," he said.

    However, Chris Turney said it'll be a positive for the area.

    "I think it'll bring jobs, and help out a little bit around here. Might even improve the roads," he said.

    Other neighbors have long list of concerns, including bright lights on all night, noise, traffic, and the desire for a larger buffer between the store and the surrounding neighborhoods. City officials will give Walmart a list of those concerns, and they hope to work with the retailer.

    Rock Hill City Planner Bill Meyer said the company knows what it needs to do to make the store successful and manageable for the community.

    "They know what they have to do to make traffic work for their store. If it's too congested in the area, people won't go there," he said.

    The land for the site is currently in York County, and is zoned commercial. However, it must be annexed into the city and re-zoned before the project can go forward. City officials plan to push for a special zoning district that gives them greater control over development, and the needed road closures.

    The public hearing before the planning commission is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. Members will not vote on Walmart's proposal, but will hear the concerns of the community.


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