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Wal-Mart officials meet in Orange
Wal-Mart officials provide details on store planned in Orange County

Date published: 10/23/2008


Lake of the Woods residents--and a generous handful of invited guests--welcomed Wal-Mart officials to a Civic Club meeting at the gated Orange County subdivision Tuesday night.

More than 150 people filled the great hall of the LOW clubhouse to hear the giant retailer's plans for a nearby store. Written questions were answered, but those in the audience expressed little consternation about either the store or the location.

Questions were mainly about the details of the project--traffic, parking, water and sewer--which haven't been completely worked out.

What is known for sure is that Wal-Mart plans to build a 141,487-square-foot Supercenter on 19 acres of commercially zoned land a quarter-mile northwest of the intersection of State Routes 3 and 20.

Last spring, developer Jay Donegan submitted a site plan to Orange County for an unnamed retail building that has always been thought to be a Wal-Mart. That building would be the first on the 50-acre site that Donegan hopes to develop.

Although LOW residents had questions about other development on his site, Donegan was not at the Tuesday night meeting.

Donegan's site plan has not been considered by the county because it lacks a traffic plan approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Wal-Mart needs a special-use permit to build its store, but that process cannot start without VDOT's approval of its traffic impact analysis.

According to VDOT spokesman Lou Hatter, Wal-Mart has not submitted that plan to the state.

The traffic plan shown at LOW includes an entrance road that would be an extension of Route 20 running between the 7-Eleven and Wachovia Bank and more turn lanes at Routes 3 and 20.

What VDOT reportedly has asked Wal-Mart to consider, however, is an entrance farther west on Route 3 that it could share with the proposed Wilderness Crossing development.

Another suggestion has been to realign the Route 3 and 20 intersection farther west. That idea has been opposed because the road would cross the Wilderness Battlefield.

Because of the Wal-Mart site's proximity to the Civil War battlefield, historic preservationists launched a campaign in August to urge the company to seek a new location for its store.

Either road plan would require agreement between Wal-Mart and the King family, which owns land on both sides of Route 3. Earlier this year, Charles "Chip" King unveiled the plans for the 900-acre Wilderness Crossing development that surrounds the planned Wal-Mart site.

King and his local representative, Kenny Dotson, were hoping to include a Wal-Mart in their development, but Wal-Mart spokesperson Kelly Hobbs said the retailer is not considering any other locations.

The county zoned the land for commercial development over 20 years ago, she said, and has designated the area for economic development.

Robin Knepper: 540/972-5701
Email: rknepper@earthlink.net

According to Wal-Mart spokesperson Kelly Hobbs, the company's Supercenter planned for Orange County would:

Offer a full grocery and retail store with an inside garden center but no auto repair or gas;

Provide about 300 jobs;

Include a 100-foot vegetative buffer that will shield the store from view from the road and the Wilderness Battlefield park;

Increase tax revenue for the county;

Donate to area charities.