Walmart expansion upsets Warner Robins neighbors

WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Retail giant Walmart has submitted an application to the Warner Robins Planning and Zoning Commission to put another store near a residential area.

The company wants to build its third Walmart Neighborhood Market in Houston County near White Road and Highway 41.

The decision has a major impact on the residents living in Georgian Walk, according to residents. Part of the area Walmart wants to rezone would sit behind the neighborhood.

For neighbors like Betty Lance and Barry Wilkins, the venture would be next door.

“I can have my kids play out here, but that won’t be if we have a Walmart next-door to us,” says Lance.

On behalf of Walmart, David Kurk submitted the request to the commission. The first step after submission is to hold a public hearing. City Attorney Jim Elliot says after the hearing, assuming the board agrees to pass the rezoning project plans, the decision to approve Walmart’s request could come as early as June 20.

“Things don’t remain the same forever,” Elliot adds.

He also believes neighbors won’t have to worry about parking lots near their neighborhood, if the company is approved to build.

“I can’t imagine that a proposal that would have a parking lot running through a neighborhood would ever be approved.”

He says the right protocols are in place to protect residential areas, as well as the companies looking to build on or near residential land.

“The residential property is certainly a transition area through there. The complexion is changing,” Elliot adds, “It certainly has been for a while. We have some safeguards in our zoning ordinance to protect adjacent property owners and the commercial properties that are next to residential properties.”

Wilkins is also a concerned neighbor who agrees with Betty. Both suggest any commercial property would lower the values of the homes in their neighborhood and the neighborhoods nearby.

Lance and Wilkins were among the few who receive a letter from the City of Warner Robins telling them about Walmart’s plan.

According to Elliot, the letter was provided as a courtesy to residents, and to let them know when the topic would be presented at the next planning and zoning meeting.

“When I received the letter, and saw it I thought this can’t be I’m reading this wrong, so I took the letter to a neighbor and we talked. I said this is my property right here. They [Walmart] are building up to my property, and we’re thinking that can’t be,” says Lance.

It’s possible the retailer may build on the land; however, residents, like Lance, plan to talk with Walmart representatives about its potential proximity to their neighborhood, Eagles Springs Elementary School and the future of their safety.

Lance adds, “I’m going to fight as long as I can.”

The next Warner Robins Planning and Zoning meeting will be held at City Hall, located on 700 Watson Boulevard at 5:30 p.m.

Elliot says everyone is welcomed to attend and voice their opinions.

Categories: Houston County, Local News

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