In case you missed it, here is Robin Knepper’s article from the Free Lance Star on June 26, 2011.

Orange neighbors get look at Walmart plans
Neighbors of new Walmart site in Orange hear details of the plan.
Date published: 6/26/2011


Residents of Lake of the Woods and Somerset Farm got a chance to take a look at plans for the proposed Walmart Supercenter inOrange County last week.

Walmart officials and contractors brought the show-and-tell to Germanna Community College‘s Locust Grove campus on Wednesday evening. About 75 residents of nearby Somerset Farm turned out to view the design for the 128,500-square-foot store and its accompanying road plans.

"I wasn’t happy with the format or the answers given or not given," said Bob Jones, secretary of the Somerset Community Association.

"There were several displays set up with people to talk to about traffic analysis, site planning and the architecture," Jones continued.

"My opinion is a consensus of Somerset Farm residents are not happy with the location Walmart has chosen," he said. "We had a meeting the next night as a follow-up to Walmart’s presentation to figure out our plan of attack."

The proposed Walmart will be part of a commercial development on the north side of State Route 3 at State Route 708, Somerset Ridge Road.

Somerset Ridge Road is the only entrance to the nearby 292-acre Somerset Farm subdivision of 225 occupied homes.

Yesterday the community conversation was held at Lake of the Woods, where fewer residents turned out and there was less opposition.

"I’m a little disappointed that more people haven’t shown up," said Lake of the Woods Association board member Ernie Meier. "But that shows that most people in Lake of the Woods are in favor of it."

Lake of the Woods’ 8,000 residents make up more than 25 percent of Orange County‘s population, and homeowners association officials say there will be no official opposition to Walmart’s location.

Walmart filed its application for a special-use permit, required for retail uses over 60,000 square feet, about two weeks ago. It is moving quickly to get its complete application to the county.

Bowman Consulting traffic engineer Erich Strohhacker said Walmart’s traffic plan will be delivered to Orange County next week for review by the county’s planning director and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

County Planning Director Gregg Zody has said that his office will move quickly to get the application to the Planning Commission once all the details have been submitted.

Walmart officials have said that construction would take 10 to 12 months.

Walmart’s first choice of a location in Orange County was four miles east, near the intersection of State Routes 3 and 20.

After a three-year effort. the giant retailer abandoned that site and ended a legal battle against the county brought by Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield and some area residents.

Historic preservationists claimed that the site would be detrimental to the Wilderness Civil War battlefield. They launched a nationwide campaign in 2008 to stop it.

Supporters of Walmart in Orange County have long stressed the importance of the tax revenue and the estimated 300 jobs the store will bring.

"The economy is so horrible we need it," said LOW resident Joanne Lambert. "But we want to make sure about the security," she added, and questioned Walmart spokesman Rob Shinn about the store’s business hours.

Walmart officials haven’t decided whether the store will be open 24 hours a day, Shinn said.

He later added that Walmart was extremely pleased by the level of support found at the LOW meeting.

Robin Knepper: 540/972-5701