FLORENCE — All that remains for Wal-Mart to begin construction of its new store is to file a plat with the city and finalize land purchase agreements.
The Planning Commission on Tuesday granted general and final subdivision approval to Barnett Family Properties LLC, which owns the land on Cloverdale Road where the second Florence Wal-Mart will be built, subject to a review by the commission’s technical committee of nine plat notations the developer must meet.
Both Planning Department and Wal-Mart representatives indicated during the meeting those notations will be met.
Tuesday’s vote culminated a long and emotional process that began three days before Christmas, when the Planning Commission granted preliminary subdivision approval.
Through the process, Wal-Mart’s developer, Gonzalez-Strength and Associates of Birmingham, had to modify traffic signal plans, expand the buffer with an existing neighborhood and take extra care to avoid two historic cemeteries.
“We’ve still got to close on the land and take care of some other business aspects,” Mark Gonzalez, of Gonzalez-Strength, said after the meeting.
“I think we will start turning dirt after the first of the year.”
The new store will encompass more than 152,000 square feet on a 25.2-acre tract. Three outparcels on Cloverdale Road are included in the plan.
Even the most outspoken opponent of the project, Coy Bramlett, who headed a group of residents that tried to stop construction, complimented the work done to incorporate their concerns.
“I want to commend the Planning Department for the good job they did incorporating so many things in the plan,” he said. “Gonzalez-Strength has done a good job, too. The final sausage has come out good.”
Incorporated into the vote were nine notations that will affect the development of the rest of the Barnett property, which extends east from Cloverdale Road. The notations include tight city control over access roads, landscaping, buffer zones, traffic studies and signals, and restrictions that would prevent wide-ranging zoning uses.
In another matter, the commission recommended the City Council rezone 2 acres adjacent to the Shoals Chamber of Commerce on Hightower Drive from R-2 single family residential to R-B residential-business. The rezoning request was made by the Shoals Area Association of Realtors, which bought to property from Florence-Lauderdale Tourism to build a new headquarters.
What made the recommendation unique is that it is the first under new zoning regulations to include a conditional zoning overlay, which severely restricts the type of business that can be built there. If the owner changes plans for construction, the owner must convince the Planning Commission and City Council to allow the change of plans.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.
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