Area residents concerned about Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market

Jim Tatum/Journal Scene Residents of neighborhoods such as Crestwood are concerned about more traffic problems that might come with a new Wal-Mart Neighborhood market to be built on Dorchester Road near Bacons Bridge Road.

Some area residents are less than thrilled with news that a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market is coming to the Bacons Bridge Road/Dorchester Road area.

The announcement that even more development is coming to an area that is already seeing rapid development and enduring years of ongoing road construction has raised concerns about additional traffic problems and quality of life issues, Cheryl Moniz said during Monday night’s Dorchester County Council meeting. Moniz, who lives in the Crestwood subdivision, appeared before council to address some of those concerns during the public comment period of the meeting.

“I can’t speak for everyone, but there are a lot of people that are pretty upset about it,” she told council. “I would hope that at some point the developers communicate with the people who live in the area so that we can hopefully address any issues that could affect us.”

Moniz noted that county officials have been responsive to her requests for information, but have not been able to answer all concerns as of yet. She especially praised Councilwoman Carroll Duncan.

The proposed development is not what people might initially visualize when they hear the words “Wal-Mart,” Dorchester County Planning and Zoning Director Alec Brebner said. For one, this store is not nearly as large a standard Wal-Mart store, such as the Dorchester Road Wal-Mart in Oakbrook, he said.

“It’s 42,000 square feet, more the size of a typical grocery store,” Brebner said. “D.O.T. has approved the studies regarding traffic impact – they say the road can support it.”

In recent correspondence, Brebner explained some of the details regarding the development.

Anchored by the grocery store, the development will also have about 8,000 square feet of retail space, an area somewhat smaller than similar shopping centers, such as the Harris Teeter on Dorchester Road in North Charleston, he said.

Plans also call for the grocery store to have two “right-in/right-out” entrances, one across from Branton’s lumber on Dorchester Road and one into Bacons Bridge Road, through the corner lot on which various seasonal uses operate. The grocery store’s one full entrance will intersect Dorchester Road next to First Emmanuel Baptist Church, he said.

A traffic study submitted with development permit applications concluded that the only change needed to accommodate the grocery store – other than completion of the present road construction in progress – is a left-turn lane into the full entrance next to the church property. The full entrance is about 660 feet from the main entrance to the Crestwood neighborhood.

There should be no conflict with people turning into either the neighborhood or the grocery store, he said.

Still, some residents are wary, especially since that area has been under the stress of development and road construction for a long time, Moniz said. Traffic problems have always existed in the area, even before the construction began; in fact there are times of the day that it is virtually impossible to get out of the neighborhood onto Dorchester Road, she said.

“It’s been a mess up there for three or four years now,” Moniz said. “We already have two gas stations and they’re talking about a third. True, we have a lot of traffic, but that’s ridiculous.”

Moniz said she and her husband participated in the town of Summerville’s vision process and one of the aspects that impressed them was the general idea that Summerville and Dorchester County need to get away from projects and development that add to suburban sprawl. Yet this development appears to be more of the same, she said.