Planners to consider Wal-Mart and Walgreens site plans tonight

By Thomas Wilson

   The Elizabethton Planning Commission will hear site plan proposals tonight for two major retail developments on West Elk Avenue that could be built on the North American Corporation property.
   City of Elizabethton director of planning and development, David Ornduff, said Monday the commission would be considering the plan approval not only for a potential Super Wal-Mart but also a Walgreens drug store.
   "These are two different sites plans, with different developers and different projects," said Ornduff. The Certified Properties firm based in Knoxville submitted a site plan to develop the 22.69-acre tract where the North American Corporation building presently stands last month.
   Site, Inc. submitted the Walgreens site plan last month, Ornduff said.
   The retail drug store would be located on a 2.2-acre tract of land where the flashing NAC signs currently sits. A massive fire that occurred on Feb. 26, 2000 effectively destroyed the main NAC building.
   The Walgreens site plan called for a 14,560 square-foot building. The city and the projects developers had been at odds last year over a potential curb cut on West Elk Avenue in close proximity to the West Elk/Hudson intersection.
   Despite the size and potential economic and cultural impact of the developments, Ornduff he did not expect a longer or more intense meeting than any other planning commission session.
   The site plan submitted by Certified Properties calls for a building covering 205,000 square feet. Parking lot space would have to meet zoning regulations governing a commercial property development of that type.
   According to the company's Web site, Wal-Mart planned an aggressive unit growth for the 2004 fiscal year beginning Feb. 1, 2003. Domestically, the Wal-Mart division plans to open approximately 45 to 55 new discount stores and 200 to 210 new Supercenters. As of Aug. 31, 2002, the company had 1,603 Wal-Mart stores, 1,179 Supercenters, 517 Sam's Clubs and 36 Neighborhood Markets in the United States.
   The planning commission will meet at 7 p.m. in Council chambers at Elizabethton City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.