HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-Residents of one Huntsville neighborhood are less than thrilled about who may be moving in next door.
Plans for a Walmart Supercenter have raised the ire of Huntsville's Piedmont neighborhood, which sits directly behind the land that's been scouted by officials with America's largest retailer.
"We're stunned," said Gia Schuetz, one of several Piedmont residents who are voicing frustration over the Walmart proposal. "When you're looking at a 24-hour urban Walmart, inevitably there's a crime issue there."
Besides crime, neighbors fear a Walmart next door would also clog area streets and bring noise and light pollution that would destroy property values. Last week city officials told WHNT News 19 that Walmart has already been given an option to buy by property owners of Mason Plaza, which currently inhabits most of the proposed site. Walmart currently has a normal-sized store nearby at the intersection of Drake Avenue and Memorial Parkway.
Other Piedmont residents accuse city officials of intentionally keeping the neighborhood in the dark in order to supress organized opposition to Walmart's move.
"We've been hearing rumors for a year," said Piedmont resident Tom Thrailkill. "City officials we've all talked to have denied much knowledge of this, and all of a sudden we hear it's a done deal...If a big-box retailer should come in here, we would certainly expect the community leaders to give that information out to the neighbors well in advance."
Walmart would not need to have city council approval since the proposed supercenter would already fit into the zoning requirements. The company did not comment on the proposed location by Piedmont, but did acknowledge plans for a new Huntsville store in a brief statement.
Our customers tell us they appreciate the convenience of one-stop shopping, and we anticipate broad community support for the new store," the statement read. "The new, larger store will have approximately 85 additional associates, which will be welcome news in a period of high unemployment...In the coming months we will be working on plans with city and state officials. Construction of the new store will take approximately a year once we begin. We are looking forward to bringing new jobs and new, affordable shopping options to the Huntsville community."