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Wal-Mart opts for McCandless, but Ross site remains vacant

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

As Wal-Mart prepares to build a supercenter in McCandless, some nearby Ross Township residents are curious about what will come of another parcel of land in their business district that is owned by the retail giant.

McCandless Council on July 28 approved plans for a Wal-Mart Supercenter near the intersection of Ingomar and McKnight roads, about three miles from the Ross border.

The land development plan was passed with a 4-3 vote and the subdivision application was passed in a 5-2 vote, despite objections by many residents.

The submission of plans for the supercenter in McCandless ended whispers of a Wal-Mart possibly coming to a 9.6-acre parcel of land at 7207 McKnight Road where a Sam's Club once stood. The property still is owned by Sam's Real Estate Business Trust, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark.

Wal-Mart spokesman Bill Wertz said last week that no decision has been made about the Ross property.

The Sam's Club closed in 2006, and the building was torn town in late 2013.

Craig Linner, president of the business group Ross Township Business and Economic Development Inc., said he wasn't entirely sure how a McCandless supercenter would affect Ross businesses, but he said the proposed plans certainly answered one big question.

“It'll stop everyone in Ross from worrying about whether or not a Wal-Mart is coming here,” Linner said.

The retailer discussed putting a Wal-Mart at the Ross site in 2007, but concerns about the flow of traffic near congested intersections and other issues prevented further talks.

In McCandless, hundreds of people, most of whom were against the proposed Wal-Mart, attended the council meeting, which was held in Carson Middle School instead of the municipal building.

Opponents in McCandless have cited the store's potential to worsen traffic on busy McKnight Road, increase crime and siphon customers from small businesses among their reasons for objecting to the project.

Those in favor of the project, however, counter that the property is in a commercially-zoned area that used to have a Kmart and Kroger grocery store, but now is underutilized.

Ross resident Andrea Santa said she wouldn't shop at the Wal-Mart, and is worried about the traffic congestion that a supercenter might cause

“I'm glad they're putting it out that way where there's more space,” Santa said. “McKnight is busy enough.”

Linner said that though businesses in Ross could face more competition, they can also benefit from the potential increased traffic on McKnight Road.

“Like any situation, there's good and bad. It's up to businesses to make the best of it,” Linner said.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or Staff writer Tory Parrish contributed to this report.

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