VERSAILLES — A proposed Wal-Mart supercenter cleared its first bureaucratic hurdle Monday, but several residents said after a public meeting that they oppose the site on the south side of Versailles.
Preliminary documents filed in Versailles show that Wal-Mart wants to build a superstore on 57 acres at the northwest corner of Blue Grass Parkway and Ky. 33 (Troy Pike) owned by Howard E. "Eddie" and Julia Sellers. The 158,583-square-foot store would include a gas station with six to eight pumps in front of the building. Wal-Mart hopes to begin construction in September, said Joseph Parsley, vice president of Carlson Consulting Engineers of Bartlett, Tenn., the firm that submitted the plans.
On Monday, residents said they are concerned about putting a big-box store in an area that is primarily residential. Bob Daniels of the Helmsley neighborhood said he's afraid that a national retailer will be the death knell for locally owned businesses.
"The city of Versailles will just be dried up because the businesses that are here now, I don't see a way that they can possibly compete, and therefore we're going to be a nothing little town," Daniels said. "It we want to have a Versailles, we don't need this. If you want Wal-Mart to take over all the businesses, that's what we'll get."
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Daniels and about a dozen others attended Monday's meeting of the Technical Review Committee, which includes representatives of the city, county, the health department and various utilities. The committee reviews plans for various developments, and then comments on easements and compliance with local regulations.
The committee voted Monday to forward a preliminary plat, a final development plan and a final record plat on the Wal-Mart proposal to the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission.
However, as is routinely done at this stage, the committee cited several changes or "deficiencies" in those documents that must be addressed before the planning commission acts.
The earliest that the planning commission could consider the Wal-Mart plans would be May 8. But if the deficiencies aren't corrected by noon April 23, the planning commission would consider the plans at a later date.
The people who attended Monday's meeting did not speak. They will have a chance to do so when the planning commission considers the plans. However, because the standard of approval for a preliminary plat is compliance with subdivision regulations, residents attending the planning commission meeting must likewise restrict their comments to compliance with those regulations. Land use and zoning are not at issue because the land was rezoned for business use two years ago.
Rachael Guadagni, who has lived in Adena Woods subdivision for seven years, is concerned about the additional traffic that Wal-Mart will bring to Troy Pike.
"It's relatively congested by the parkway as it is, particularly at rush-hour times of the day" Guadagni said. "So our concern was that you would have a large increase in traffic, which is a safety concern."
Guadagni also questioned whether Versailles needs a Wal-Mart, given that Lexington has several, and there are supercenters in Lawrenceburg and Georgetown.
"It seems like an overkill," Guadagni said. "We have a Kmart in town. I don't believe that would survive if a Wal-Mart came in. Then you're left with another set of strip mall stores that would likely become vacant. ... This seems like just an ill-conceived place to put it."
Kroger, which shares the same shopping center as Kmart, plans to build a new store on the other side of U.S. 60. Versailles residents fear the potential of another vacant shopping center becoming an eyesore, as Versailles Center did on the east side of town. Crews are tearing down the remnants of Versailles Center, which was a blighted property for years.
Dave Arnold, a county resident who lives on Marsailles Road, said he's concerned that more traffic will come through Huntertown Road and Marsailles Road area to go to Wal-Mart.
"It's already becoming a major diversion route," Arnold said. "We have heavy trucks going through the neighborhood. The roads aren't adequate for the volume, and I'm afraid this is just going to cause even more diversions through other residential areas."