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Neighbors hope to block plans for a new Walmart Celanese; Vote is Tuesday

ROCK HILL A group of upset Rock Hill residents hope a petition signed by more than 350 people will be enough to persuade city officials to stomp out plans for a Walmart neighborhood market at the corner of Celanese and Ebinport roads.

The city’s Planning Commission meets Tuesday night and is expected to vote on whether to allow Walmart to build a 41,000-square-foot grocery store on Celanese Road – one of Rock Hill’s busiest thoroughfares.

Walmart wants to build the market, a company-run gas station and other shops on about 14 acres between Ebinwood and Ebinport roads. The commercial buildings and a 217-space parking lot would face Celanese Road.

The retail giant’s neighborhood market stores focus primarily on grocery sales but include some hardware, pet products and a pharmacy. Walmart is calling the development “Celanese Station.”

The plan has stirred up opposition from residents who live in the nearby Swan Meadows neighborhood. Some Swan Meadows residents say they’re worried the Walmart store and associated commercial development will negatively impact their property values and their quality of life, and increase traffic in the area.

On Tuesday night, the concerned neighbors plan to give the Planning Commission a copy of their petition. Just a few days before the meeting, the residents had gathered more than 350 signatures.

Many of the people who signed the petition also spoke up at a recent public hearing in Rock Hill, where 13 people spoke against Walmart’s plan and two people spoke in favor. At that meeting, Planning Commission members deferred voting on the company’s request after the developer in charge of the project asked for more time to confer with upset neighbors.

Rock Hill’s Planning Commission already has approved a separate Walmart plan to build a neighborhood market on Cherry Road at the corner of Dorchester Street. That development will displace a restaurant, car wash and fireworks store.

Walmart plans, but has not yet earned approval, to build a third neighborhood market in Rock Hill, on S.C. 5, near Northwestern High School. That development would displace the Rawlinson Road Plaza, which includes a Subway restaurant.

Without the Planning Commission’s approval, the Celanese Road development cannot move forward. Walmart is asking that Rock Hill officials approve a rezoning and annexation request. The City Council also must approve the company’s request before site work can begin.

The rezoning component of the request would allow for multiple business uses on land that currently is used for a single-family home with several acres of undeveloped property surrounding it. Part of Walmart’s development site would include property where a daycare once operated.

The annexation request seeks approval for extending the city limits to include the Walmart store and associated development. City leaders have said, if approved, the annexation would not affect the Swan Meadows subdivision, which sits just outside Rock Hill’s city limits.

If Planning Commission members approve, Walmart’s Celanese Station development could include businesses such as daycare centers, animal grooming facilities, drive-through restaurants, offices, laundromats, banks, pharmacies and liquor stores.

Walmart has not yet said which businesses it plans to open in the shopping center other than its grocery store and gas station. Its plans call for building about 11,200-square feet of commercial space in addition to the grocery store.

To accommodate the development, Walmart would close a portion Ebinport Road and shift Ebinwood Road west, to become an extension of Ebinport Road.

Road crews would add turn lanes along Ebinport Road to allow for traffic to flow in and out of the new development. A traffic signal likely would be installed at the existing intersection of Celanese and Ebinport roads.

In response to the concerns of several Swan Meadows residents, Walmart plans to build a six-foot-tall solid fence along the backside of its development to shield neighbors from the commercial area. The company also says it will leave a 50-foot buffer between residential properties and its Celanese Station.

Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting is at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at Rock Hill City Hall, 155 Johnston Street.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068
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