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Walmart Approval Upsets Some McCandless Residents

After a town meeting had to be moved to accommodate the 300 strong crowd, after five hours of debate and testimony, after a 90 day delay proposal, McCandless Town Council has approved an application by Walmart to build a superstore.

But many of the residents in McCandless are still fighting the approval of the 150,000-square-foot Walmart which will be built on Blazier Drive, just off of McKnight Road.

‘We are planning on taking this to a judge downtown, and we fully expect our appeal to be upheld, and it to be remanded back to the town council, where we will be given what we originally asked for which is simply 90 days so that we could go and review,” said Mark Wilkins, spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens of McCandless.

Wilkins says that one week for the the people of the town, including council members, was not enough time to review the 7 binders produced by Walmart’s traffic experts. But the clock was ticking as the 120 day limit to vote on any development would be up on August 4, so the group's request that the council wait another 90 days to vote was denied.

The land that Walmart plans to develop is now occupied by one abandoned building, and a Trader Horn and a beer distributor sharing a building, all of which would be demolished. Right now the site is not maintained well according to Wilkins, with many cracks in the parking lot and unsightly vegetation.

In addition to traffic flow, opponents are also concerned about the noise and light pollution that a Walmart store and its customers will produce. The site is less than a mile from North Park, and the noise could distract park users. The land is also a flood plain, and citizens are concerned about the potential damage that development could cause.

Wilkins believes that the council members were under pressure to vote so they hastily made their decisions, but he is "pretty positive" that the appeal will get approved and then the citizens will be back  before council debating the Walmart plan.

“But whenever that meeting takes place we would hope that the public would turnout then. We have a petition drive going on. We have collected over 1,000 signatures just in one week,” said Wilkins.

Councilman Ralph LeDonne who voted ‘yes’ refused to comment for WESA and referred all questions to the Town Manager, Toby Cordek, who had not returned calls at the time of publication.

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.