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Residents voice concerns over proposed Walmart in Pinecroft

The Antis Township Board of Supervisors met in front of a packed house last night, anticipating the sharing of concerns from residents regarding the plans for a Walmart in Pinecroft.
Several of those in attendance were residents of BelAire Estates, which is located adjacent to the 130-acre lot Walmart is looking to buy a portion of.
Sarah Miller represented many of her neighbors and shared a presentation with the board and guests, explaining the concerns of herself and her neighbors.
“We’re not here to stop Walmart from putting a Super Center in Pinecroft, but to lessen the impact on its neighbors,” she said as she began her presentation.
Miller explained the group values their neighborhood which is in a rural setting, but is close. She said BelAire Estates is clean, quiet and safe, a great place to raise kids and they want to try to protect that.
A list of six major concerns was brought to the attention of the board including traffic congestion, impacts from blasting, safety issues with police and the volunteer fire department, storm water runoff, sewage and noise and light pollution.
With several diagrams of the proposed Walmart store Miller presented her case, showing two entrances to the Super Center, one off of Rt. 220 and one off of Sabbath Rest Road.
Miller said Sabbath Rest Road is a narrow, country road with no shoulder. Her concern was with the traffic congestion that would be created along this back road. Also, the road is used as a cut-through for the Pinecroft Volunteer Fire Department, as well as school buses.
The group felt the west entrance off of Sabbath Rest Road is in a bad position located just over a small hill and around a blind curve.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Miller.
The residents’ concern with blasting was also an issue. They wondered how the blasting would affect their properties, their wells, the foundation of their houses and its contents.
“There’s no police force in Pinecroft,” Miller continued and according to her research, “Walmart is linked to crime increase in small towns.”
Another issue concerning BelAire Estates residents was that of storm water runoff.
“When Walmart proposed this west entrance off of Sabbath Rest Road, they said it would be at least 100 feet away from our properties,” Miller explained.
She then shared a photo taken last evening which showed digging was occurring just beyond the property line of one resident.
“I know the water runoff is going to come onto my property already,” said one homeowner, “with as many trees as they have already cut down.
“And, when you look at the map (of Walmart’s proposed building) it looks like the road is far away, but it’s not, it right in our backyards.”
Miller continued, saying sewage was also a concern. According to Miller, Walmart said they will create 6,000 to 8,000 gallons of sewage a day, which will be held in holding tanks until they can create a better plan for it’s removal.
The last concern Miller spoke about was light and noise pollution. She said Walmart Super Centers are open 24 hours a day, and residents hope that measures will be taken so that their daily lives are affected as little as possible.
Not only did Miller present the concerns of the group, she also shared possible solutions. Examples included making all entrances come off of Old Route 220, eliminating the west entrance; create a vegetative buffer between Walmart and the housing development; using low pressure sodium lights to reduce light intrusion and limiting the hours of blasting.
The group was very well organized in their presentation and presented several solutions to some of the problems they saw as concerns for those living nearby the proposed building site.
Miller challenged the supervisors to look at all angles of this proposal, asking, “What if this was your house or your neighborhood?”
She asked them to think of Antis Township’s future, “How do you want Antis Township to look in 20 or 50 years down the road?
Miller concluded, saying Walmart has stated they want to be a good neighbor, let’s see that in action.
“BelAire Estates is a beautiful neighborhood. We think we can work together with Walmart to make this a win-win situation.”
The supervisors thanked Miller for her presentation and assured guests they are aware of the many concerns of residents.
Supervisor Ray Amato said Walmart representatives were supposed to be on hand at the meeting but were unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. Township Manager Jeffrey Ziegler took down residents’ concerns to be presented to Walmart officials, who are tentatively scheduled to attend January’s board meeting.
Other residents voiced their concerns also. Some were concerned about the other businesses located in Antis Township and whether or not they would be able to stay open.
Bill Anderson of the Little Juniata River Association shared his concerns on the building of such a massive project and whether or not it would affect the Sandy Run Wetlands or increase flooding downstream in Tyrone, Smithfield and Huntingdon.
When asked if they were even concerned about Walmart coming to Antis Township, Amato said, “Of course we’re concerned, this is our township too. I assure you, we’re going to sit down with Walmart and hopefully your group (residents of BelAire Estates) will be present too.”
The question was also raised as to whether or not there was any way to stop Walmart from building.
“If they buy the property and abide by the rules and regulations, there’s nothing we can do,” said Amato.
Some residents brought up the issue of zoning in Antis Township.
Amato explained that zoning was looked at several years ago but a majority of the residents were against it.
Supervisor Charles Taylor said it is unlikely that zoning would have prevented this scenario anyway, because more than likely, land along Rt. 220 would have been marked for commercial development.
Walmart plans to have representatives attend next month’s regular meeting which is scheduled for Thursday, January 5 at 7 p.m.
A reorganization meeting will be held Tuesday, January 3 at 7 p.m.