Snyderville Wal-Mart must expand, developer says
An architect on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission cautioned developers who wish to enlarge the Wal-Mart store at Kimball Junction to brace for public furor.
"The community is going to be looking for a way to break down the big box," Basin Planning Commissioner Kurt Daenitz said. "Everybody has moved here to live in a small-scale, mountain-like, rural-like environment."
Wal-Mart officials gave planning commissioners their first look last week at an application submitted for a conditional use permit to make Wal-Mart on Landmark Drive 48,877 square feet bigger.
"I want to warn you because you’re going to have everybody coming out of the woodwork," Daenitz said.
Basin Planning Commissioner Tom Brennan said he is against granting the permit partly because current building codes in western Summit County would prohibit Wal-Mart from constructing a 120,721-square-foot store.
"We would never approve a 120,000-sqaure-foot building anywhere in this county today," Brennan said. "I’m not sure why we should create one here."
Extra space is needed for storage, offices and an enclosed garden center near the northwest side of the store, said Troy Herald, a consultant who represents Wal-Mart in Utah.
Though planners expect roughly 7,000 square feet of retail space to be added to the store, Wal-Mart in Snyderville won’t begin selling food, Summit County planner Kimber Gabryszak said, adding, "they’re not going to become a super Wal-Mart."
The northwest portion of the building, however, is the most visible from surrounding condominiums, the Utah Olympic Park and Interstate 80, Gabryszak added.
Planning commissioners also panned the "false (store) fronts" architects designed as part of remodeling the store’s facade.
"They would need to bring the entire Wal-Mart into compliance with current architectural regulations," Garbryszak said. "From the front, a false front may look nice. From the side, they look something rather odd."
Wal-Mart consultant Gregg Oltman countered that this is "one of the more detailed expansions that I’ve worked on."
"This is what, today, Wal-Mart is willing to put into a store that is not going to be a big revenue booster for the company," Oltman said. "Wal-Mart has instructed me to inform the commission that there are (budgetary) limits."
Brennan, however, dismissed these remarks.
"In regard to Wal-Mart’s budget and what they’ll determine to be feasible for this project I don’t care," Brennan said.
Basin Planning Commissioner Kathy Kinsman agreed.
"If Wal-Mart wants a garden center then I think they need to be a little bit more flexible on their budget," she said.
But Kinsman would rather expand an existing building than approve additional big-box retail in western Summit County.
Construction of the current Wal-Mart building was approved in 1991.
Gabryszak doesn’t expect the proposed expansion to significantly impact parking or traffic conditions in the area.
Meanwhile, the project includes improving the parking lot and replacing landscaping at the store, Herald said, adding, "this area was always planned to have an expansion."
The request to expand the building appears reasonable, said John Tuerff, president of Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth, a development watchdog group.
"If they were looking to dramatically expand the store, that would not be well received in the community," Tuerff said during a telephone interview last Thursday. "Trying to make the building taller or make the sign bigger is not something that is going to be strongly embraced."
Citizens may have an opportunity to comment on the expansion within the next few months.
"This is the first step of many," Gabryszak said.
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Utah’s legislative general session is set to end on Friday, and if history is any indicator, there will be a flurry of floor amendments and last-minute changes for county officials to monitor.