Future Wal-Mart Traffic Concerns Continue in Hazel Green, Threaten to Drive Residents Out

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HAZEL GREEN, Ala. (WHNT) - Conflicting descriptions ranging from "gold mine" to "death trap" showed residents feelings toward a proposed Walmart at Charity Lane and U.S. 231/431 at a public meeting earlier this year.

The residents repeatedly argued that Walmart and Madison County haven't done their homework if they think a supercenter can just locate there without substantial improvements to Charity Lane.

Now, with construction looming, some residents say they'd rather pick up and move rather than live across the street from a Walmart Supercenter.

"We're not going to be able to get in and out of our driveway like we're used to and this is where I grew up so I don't want to move and leave it all behind," says soon-to-be Hazel Green High School junior Shay Seals.

The Seal family have lived near the intersection of Charity Lane and U.S. 231/431 for a little more than a year but say they've seen their share of bad wrecks near their home.

"It's been more than a couple," Seals says.

The Seals family is even considering drastic measures to avoid new neighbors in Walmart:

"Moving," Seal says sadly, "because once it goes up it's just going to make things worse, so we're talking about moving."  It's an idea the high school student says many others close by are entertaining as well.

"Most of our neighbors are talking about moving, too because they don't want to deal with it either."

Griner's Foodland is also literally feet from the future Walmart sight. Though managers declined to comment on camera - needless to say owners are none too pleased with the prospect of a retail juggernaut neighbor.

Walmart intends to build a 151,000-square-foot store on 21 acres. As per instructed by the Alabama Department of Transportation the site plan only shows one entry/exit on the highway. The plans show three access points on Charity Lane, one of which is intended for delivery trucks. The development also has four outparcels for restaurants and other retail businesses. Construction is scheduled to be complete in November.

The next closest Walmart is 16 miles in either direction, north and south. Residents said it will be a popular store because it's on the commute for people coming from Fayetteville, Tenn., to Huntsville for work, as well as the fact that sales taxes will be 4 to 5 percent cheaper than the stores in municipalities.

Residents told the engineers that Charity Lane can't handle the extra measure of shopping traffic and without better road improvements, it will increase the frequency of wrecks and fatalities all too common on Charity.

To deal with the extra traffic, engineers with Kimley-Horn and Associates, which regularly designs Walmart stores, plan to add a third lane on the south side of Charity. It specifically would be meant to help eastbound vehicles leaving the shopping center, intending to turn right on U.S. 231/431.

Plans also call for using an existing median cut on the highway to allow northbound vehicles on U.S. 231/431 to turn left into the shopping center. It would be enhanced with a northbound left-turn lane but not a traffic light, as instructed by ALDOT.

Glen Wilkins, Walmart senior manager of public affairs and government relations, said Walmart would have preferred two access points on the highway, and they didn't opt for a cheaper method as some residents accused.

"We want it to be safe," he said. "It has to be easily accessible or we don't have shoppers."

The store on the southwest corner of U.S. 431/231 and Charity Lane will employ about 300 workers. The store is set to open next spring.

wm marketWal-Mart will also start construction in June on a new 42,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market on the southwest corner of Wall Triana Highway and Pine Grove, which is just outside Madison. The company will hire 95 employees for the new store.

"Our stores will help provide our customers in the community with both convenient and affordable shopping options, and good job and career opportunities," said Amanda Henneberg, a Walmart spokeswoman. "We look forward to our stores being a part of the solution for residents in Madison County."

There are currently more than 300 Neighborhood Market locations across the U.S., including Decatur and Florence. Officials recently broke ground on a new Neighborhood Market at Oakwood Avenue and Jordan Lane.

The Neighborhood Market stores, which are typically less than a third of the size of a regular Supercenter, offer customers a full line of groceries, produce, meat, dairy, pharmacy and general merchandise items. The new location in Madison, which is expected to be complete early next year, will have an outdoor fueling station.

Work is also underway on the new Wal-Mart Supercenter at Mason Plaza on South Parkway. Huntsville City Councilman Bill Kling said officials will begin planting a row of large, sound-absorbing holly bushes along L&N Drive as soon as Friday to give residents living near the new Wal-Mart some insulation from the noise.





  • Amen.

    Come on walmart we really need you here! This one will be kept clean and nice unlike the one on Sparkman dr. Better class of people in Hazel Green.

    • Dr.Berry

      The lower class that shop at Sparkman dr. Walmart is from Hazel Green, nimrod. Or was you just being racist?

      • farleycat

        The Hazel Green people mostly go to the Fayetteville WM. It’s less crowded, cleaner, the workers are much nicer, and you never feel unsafe walking out of there late at any time of the day.

        There may be a lot of lower class people in HG, but they aren’t as likely to rob, threaten, or attack you as the crowd at the Sparkman store (though you may still want to make it something about race…)

      • DumbDrBerry

        Walmart is from Hazelgreen? What kind of English are you speaking? You need to remove the Dr. from your name. You never start a sentence with a conjunction.

    • Jim

      Yeah, i am waiting for the one that is replacing Drake to open. Walmart did a good job working on truck traffic concerns for that location. Originally that location was to face the parkway and the neighborhood was concerned about the truck traffic deliveres etc so Walmart changed the orientation to face North with trucks delivering from the parkway side. This should eliminate truck delivery noise. They are planting trees now on the L&N side to abate noise. They listen. They know what they are doing. That location is replacing the substandard location on Drake.

  • Amanda

    On a positive note: It will bring much needed jobs to the area and revenue as well. It’s coming regardless.

    • Nuclear Mike

      Yes, WalMart thru State channels could not be blocked from putting even more Mom&Pop’s out of business…

    • JA

      Revenue and jobs, sure. However, it will also be killing local businesses and the livelihoods of local families while making a distant multi-billionaire family even richer.

      There are some pros, but I’m not sure they outweigh the cons.

  • TruthLivesHere

    To all the Wal-Mart haters, who among you can honestly say you’ve never purchased anything at a Wal-Mart?

    • JA

      Whether or not someone shops there doesn’t make them a less scummy company.

      I bet most people that were outraged by the BP spill also buy gas.

    • Nuclear Mike

      We bought more when Sam Walton was alive, but now only if it is past Midnight and an emergency of sorts…and we go armed…

  • Safety

    My concern with the HG WM is that it is right by 2 schools. We will have bus traffic and then WM traffic at an intersection that is already known for horrible wrecks. I fear for the safety of our children going to school everyday. I don’t think that they have done enough survey’s to determine what will be best…sure haven’t seen much movement in that area since it was announced. We moved out to HG for a reason…less traffic/noise/safe neighborhoods…so I’m not happy it is coming our way!

  • Bill Strickland

    politicians push for more growth and taxes for them to spend,,and the public rarely gets considered. Politics as usual. All complaints will fall on deaf ears, usually when there are public hearings held on these things, the decision is already made. Ive been here before.

  • Thunderball

    The new Wal-Mart opening on Drake Ave. will attract the same scumbag shoppers as the old run down store. Wal-Mart only views Huntsville as one of their ‘cash cows’ and city politicians are part of the problem that hurts locally owned businesses.

  • CG

    Wal Mart nor politicians about the quality of life In a small community or the ssafety of our school children. Money is their god.

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