Teays Valley Wal-Mart proposal debated on MetroNews “Talkline”

TEAYS VALLEY, W.Va. — Members of Putnam County’s Board of Zoning Appeals are scheduled to vote next month on a requested zoning variance that, if approved, would clear the way for a smaller Wal-Mart to be built along Route 34 in Teays Valley.

On Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” Kevin Thompson, director of public affairs and government relations for Wal-Mart, said the proposed “neighborhood market” would be a first for West Virginia, though Wal-Mart’s concept for a basic grocery store is used at nearly 500 other locations nationwide.

“Some folks just want to be able to go in and get groceries and not have to deal with what is the larger aspect of a SuperCenter and it’s a quick in and out for your weekly or daily food shopping,” Thompson said.

He defended the open house held Thursday on the project. “If the intent was to have discussions about the project, there was ample opportunity to do that,” he said.

Many residents, though, who had been pushing for a formal meeting on the proposal moved their discussions to the hallway in protest.

“We want to be able to protect our community, our neighborhood, small businesses that are already here,” said Jennifer Martone who is with the Keeping the Promise Coalition.

“By allowing such a big box store to come into that area, it’s just going to cause people to lose their jobs, the market value of your house is going to go down, we’ll lost our sidewalks, we’ll lose the community feel that many of us moved here for.”

Martone said her opposition would be the same for any company wanting to build the size of store Wal-Mart is proposing, with the potential to bring more traffic to an already congested area.

“We feel we don’t right in the middle of our community, right next to our neighborhood,” she said.

Zoning along the section of Route 34 where Wal-Mart is looking to locate allows for commercial space of up to 5,000 square feet. The proposal for a 42,000 square foot space will require a variance the Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to consider on May 14.