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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Business News

Walmart drops Carrollwood store proposal

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CARROLLWOOD — Wal-Mart has abandoned its effort to build a grocery store on long-vacant Dale Mabry Highway acreage, a proposal that rallied Carrollwood opponents to organize, wave placards at rush-hour traffic, erect yard signs and circulate petitions.

The grass-roots group that formed to fight the planned 41,180-square-foot Walmart Neighborhood Market at the northwest corner of Dale Mabry and Floyd Road overcame long odds when Hillsborough County commissioners in January voted 6-0 to deny a rezoning request.

The victory for Carrollwood residents was dampened a month later when Brightworks Acquisitions, the contract buyer of the 10.5-acre former plant nursery, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The 90-page suit maintains the commission’s vote was politically motivated, not based on evidence or criteria, and countered recommendations for approval by the county’s planning experts and a land-use hearing officer.

Now county attorneys have suggested the commission approve a proposed settlement of the lawsuit and schedule a public hearing for its Nov. 12 land-use meeting to consider a scaled-down commercial development — without a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

A site plan accompanying the proposed settlement shows three commercial buildings, none of which, according to an accompanying list of 17 conditions, will exceed 10,000 square feet in size, with the cumulative total capped at 18,700 square feet.

“It looks like a reasonable plan,” said Greg Scott, one of the organizers of the opposition group 813CARe (Carrollwood Against Rezoning). “They’re asking for 19,000 square feet of total space, and the Wal-Mart (grocery) alone was nearly 42,000,” he said. “At first blush, I’m pretty happy about the whole thing. I think it’s a great turn of events,” Scott said.

“It’s a lot less intensive,” Scott said of the scaled-down development plan. And it does not require a traffic signal at the Dale Mabry/Floyd Road intersection, an element of the original proposal that the group opposed.

“I hate to say it’s a win-win, but we got pretty much everything we were trying to get,” Scott said of the proposed settlement agreement.

Scott said he and other 813CARe leaders plan to meet Tuesday with Brightworks representatives to review the plan.

An attorney for Brightworks could not be reached for comment.

Responding to questions about scrapping plans for a Walmart Neighborhood Market at the Dale Mabry site, Amanda Henneberg, the company’s senior manager of communications for public affairs and government relations, said: “We are always looking for new locations where we can better serve our customers, but have no plans to announce at this time.”

Scott said rumors that Wal-Mart backed out of the plan have been circulating for months.

gwilkens@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7124

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