McCANDLESS (KDKA) – The McCandless Town Council voted early Tuesday morning to approve plans for a new Walmart Supercenter.
Hundreds of people showed up at Carson Middle School to voice their concerns.
The meeting stretched into Tuesday morning with the board making a final vote around 1 a.m.
Walmart wants to build a 150,000-square-foot store off Blazier Drive, where Trader Horn, Brewry Outlet and a former Bally’s now stand.
Late Monday, opponents of the project hired attorney Dwight A. Ferguson to represent them in court.
During the meeting, Ferguson said that they’ve asked Walmart for more time so neighbors in the area could put their case together.
But, he said, Walmart’s answer was no.
One of the opponents last night had this to say: “It is our community, not Walmart’s community. Council shouldn’t be the ones voting, you should get the 28,000 or so in McCandless and get their input on this.”
Councilman Ralph Ledonne was happy people got to voice their opinions, but he said Walmart meets all the requirements.
“We thought all of the conditions were met, requirements were met, we are proceeding forward with the project based on all the information we were given,” he said.
Last Monday, more than 100 people crowded into the meeting room, where Walmart officials made an hour-long presentation, saying the firm would spend several million dollars to upgrade and modernize traffic lights in the area of the new store to help mitigate the expected increase in traffic.
It would also widen some roads, and construct turning lanes.
“What I don’t want is grocery stores boarded up, pharmacies boarded up, auto parts stores boarded up,” said one resident.
“We have a vested interest in our community. They don’t live here, we do and that’s why we have to fight them,” said Rita Martin of Wexford.
Traffic concerns are a lot of the focus of opponents.
“This is going to bring triple the traffic,” said Martin.
“I don’t think there will be triple the traffic anywhere as a result of the Walmart site,” said McCandless zoning officer Bruce Betty. “There are increases on McKnight Road and there are increases on Blazer Drive.”
So how much of an increase will it bring?
According to the McCandless traffic studies, the biggest impact will be on vehicles coming from Wexford and turning onto Blazer Drive to go towards Walmart. About 100 more vehicles during the peak of rush hour on a weekend day and more than 73 weekday afternoon – and 50 more an hour during the morning rush.
“The park’s right here with people riding bicycles constantly,” said Gene Walter. “I can’t imagine more traffic.”
The study says the worst additional traffic through the park will be 36 cars an hour during the peak Sunday afternoon crunch.
And coming off northbound McKnight Road, Ingomar will pick up a total of 79 more cars during the peak Saturday hour, which raises neighborhood concerns about the intersection at the bottom of the ramp.
“PennDOT has been called in since they own the ramp,” said Toby Cordek, McCandless Manager.
Cordek says changes in signs and additional signs may be needed and they will continue to watch that intersection if Walmart gets the green light.