BALLSTON, N.Y. – Controversy continues to grow surrounding plans to build a Walmart in the town of Ballston.
Walmart wants to build a store south of the Ballston Spa village line behind the McDonald’s on Route 50. Residents oppose building the big-box retailer placing signs throughout the town.
Residents formed a group called Smart Growth Ballston. Members said they have hundreds of signed petitions against the proposed Walmart and plan to present them to the Ballston Town Board at a Tuesday night meeting.
“It is just too large for the area. It doesn’t fit the neighborhood character, and our main concern is traffic,” Elizabeth Kormos with Smart Growth Ballston said. “It is going to generate a tremendous amount of traffic, and this area already is traffic constrained.”
"It would hurt the small town village image that Ballston spa has right now,” said business owner Lynne Shea.
Shea is the owner of Lynne's Candles and Inspirations, a small shop on Milton Avenue in Ballston Spa that sells all kinds of home decor produced by local artists. She said she’s worried a Walmart would hurt her business.
"I make my own candles, soy candles, they're hand poured. You can go to Walmart and buy a bunch of candles. They're not hand poured, they're made in china, and that concerns me,” she said.
Walmart, however, is not backing down.
“We certainly hope the store is popular, but we are not anticipating real traffic issues because we’re working hard with the city and the state to work out a smooth traffic flow,” Walmart spokesperson Bill Wertz said.
This is the second time Walmart has tried to build a store in the area. It cancelled its plans in 2004 after residents cited traffic, safety, and quality of life concerns.
The 2004 plans included an 180,000 square foot supercenter, but the town board changed the zoning rules after opposition from residents. Walmart has scaled back the plans for the current project to meet the new rules by proposing a 137,000 square foot store.
But Kormos isn’t satisfied, citing a quality of life issue.
“We picked this place because of things like the Coffee Planet and the Whistling Kettle,” she said. “We walk downtown, and we love it and we don’t want to become a big-box suburban store.”
Small Growth Ballston said they hired an attorney and have vowed to continue their fight and the approval Walmart received from the town board has expired.
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