Proposed Walmart on fast track for approval as community pushes back

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JOHNSON COUNTY – Residents in the Shepherd’s Grove community are afraid of what will happen to the peace and quiet of their neighborhood if Walmart builds a proposed supercenter nearby.

“If there’s going to be parking and lights behind the building, that’s going to be a real problem for those residents,” said Simon Morse of White River Township.

Neighbors defeated the Arkansas-based retail giant in 2005 when it attempted to put a similar store near State Road 135 and Olive Branch Road. On Jan. 25, Walmart filed plans with the Greenwood Plan Commission for a 152,000-square-foot store on 15 acres southwest of the intersection of Smith Valley Road and State Road 135 adjacent to a current Home Depot Store.

“It appears to meet the ordinance requirements,” said Greenwood Planning Director Ed Ferguson.

On Monday night, Walmart will seek a waiver from the Plan Commission to avoid building an additional 100 parking places behind the store on property next to the Shepherd’s Grove subdivision.

Instead, Walmart would create a retention pond for drainage and ring its property with an earthen berm and trees as a buffer to the homes.

“They prefer to keep all the parking and lights and noise and so forth out in front of the store,” said Ferguson.

Donna Cale of the Shepherd’s Grove Homeowners Association told Fox59 News that her neighbors are worried about the noise from delivery trucks backing up to Walmart’s loading docks in the middle of the night.

Morse doesn’t live in Shepherd’s Grove, but he drives through the area every day and worries about the additional 7,500 traffic trips the customers and suppliers of the Walmart store will generate in an area that’s already congested.

“There’s lots of left turns. There’s lots of traffic. It’s just a nightmare and it’ll be worse if Walmart builds here,” he said.

Drivers going south on State Road 135 would have little trouble accessing the store, which would be set off the highway behind a pair of restaurants and a bank. Eastbound Smith Valley Road motorists would go through the Home Depot parking lot to reach the store. Northbound and westbound drivers would have to make difficult left turns.

Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers told Fox59 News that city planners will require Walmart to pay for additional improvements to Smith Valley Road while requesting state authorities demand the same for State Road 135.

If the Walmart parking lot waiver is granted Monday night, Greenwood planning staff could examine and approve the plans, with no more Plan Commission review, within 90 days.

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