TIMBERVILLE — Longtime rumors of Wal-Mart being interested in coming to town can be put to rest: The world’s largest retailer is ready to be in Timberville.
A 128,000-square-foot supercenter is planned on 16 acres bound by South Main Street, Va. 211 and American Legion Drive, across from the town office on South Main, which is Va. 42.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the property owner, Quail Lane Farm LLC, submitted a rezoning request to the town on Thursday, Town Manager Austin Garber said.
The land is zoned for residential development, and Wal-Mart needs it changed to a business classification.
The property has long been in the family of Marcus Garber, no relation to the town manager.
Austin Garber said another 20 acres on the proposed site — the land closest to Plains Elementary School — are not part of the development.
A joint public hearing between the Timberville Town Council and Planning Commission will likely be scheduled for the third week in August and held at the Plains District Community Center, Garber said.
If the rezoning request is approved, about 300 jobs will be created at the store, which will feature retail space, a pharmacy, grocery, garden center, tire-and-lube service, and fuel stations.
“[W]e look forward to working with the town to obtain the necessary approvals to move the project forward,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a prepared statement. “Our store would provide our customers with both general merchandise and fresh food close to where they live and work, while creating approximately 300 jobs and additional tax revenue for the town.”
Those perks will likely be met with resistance from small business owners.
“The sheer size of that location for a town the size of Timberville … just dwarfs the community. It seems totally out of place,” said Randy Andes, who owns Randy’s Do It Best Hardware in Timberville and serves on a local committee of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce. “I’m pretty positive I can adapt. I do things that they don’t do. But the local drugstore, tire store … it’s just a lot of impact on small businesses — negative impact.”
The site plan submitted to Timberville shows a Walmart store fronting South Main Street and with entrances on South Main, Va. 211 and American Legion Drive. The gas pumps would be closest to American Legion Drive.
Garber said the company would make improvements to Va. 211 by adding turn lanes in both directions. South Main Street, at the main entrance, will not need a new traffic signal, he added.
There are two Walmart supercenters in Harrisonburg and a distribution center off Interstate 81 in Mount Crawford.
Garber said he’s heard a rumor that a Walmart — or possibly a Target or Sheetz — was coming to Timberville “every six weeks to six months” ever since he started working for the town 10 years ago.
He expects “mixed feelings” at the public hearing.
In addition to the Timberville proposal, Wal-Mart may be looking to bring one of its neighborhood markets to Harrisonburg.
MVG Development of Denver has a contract for a 6.7-acre parcel at Mount Clinton Pike and North Main Street and recently outlined plans at the location for a 42,000-square-foot grocery store, plus a pharmacy and fuel stations.
However, unlike the Timberville store, no site plan has been submitted.
During a rezoning process with Harrisonburg City Council earlier this month, MVG Development said a tenant is lined up for the property, but the developer is bound by a nondisclosure agreement from revealing its identity.
MVG, though, is involved in efforts around Virginia to build Walmart neighborhood markets featuring similar elements to the proposed but unnamed store in Harrisonburg.
Henneberg could not be reached for comment on the city store.
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or email@example.com