Teays Valley citizens battle proposed Walmart grocery store

HURRICANE, W.Va. — A group of residents fighting construction of a Walmart grocery store on Route 34 in Teays Valley claim the retailer’s presence would create traffic congestion and violate zoning laws that make the town unique.

The 42,000-square-foot proposed “neighborhood market” is about one-quarter the size of a typical Walmart supercenter, but homeowners in a nearby subdivision contend it will adversely affect the area just the same.

Walmart would require special approval from the county Zoning Appeals Board, because current ordinances cap commercial buildings at 5,000 square feet.

Andrew Martone, among a group of 20-plus residents who met Monday night, said he chose to live in Teays Valley partially because the zoning laws kept commercial growth in balance.

“One thing that really stands out about Teays Valley is that you have terrific zoning laws in place,” he said. “The laws give you well-defined residential districts, and business districts.”

Rachel Coffman, who represents a public relations firm hired to fight the Walmart, said citizens can still join the opposition.

“You can call the board of zoning appeals, you can call the county commissioners, you can legislators or any elected officials,” she said. “There’s all kinds of ways that you can express your concerns about what this is going to do and how it will change the community.”

Coffman encouraged residents to voice their concerns at a hearing May 14.

Walmart plans to stage its own informational meeting on April 23 at 7 p.m. at Hurricane City Hall. The retailer will unveil site maps explain its plan to ease traffic flow.

David Alvis, a certified planner who who owns a Cross Lanes business, said Walmart creates traffic problems no matter what the size.

“Walmart doesn’t even have to advertise where they are,” he said. “It pulls in traffic—2,000 or 3,000 cars a day.”

Putnam County Development Authority president Johnny Harris, speaking to the Charleston Gazette in January, voiced his opposition: “I think we need another Walmart like we need a hole in the head.”

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