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Residents offer support, concerns about Galt Wal-Mart

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Posted: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 12:00 am

While Chris DeZelle supports the Wal-Mart project on Twin Cities Road, she still has concerns about how the addition of the major retailer would affect traffic.

She is worried that the number of vehicles will continue to increase on her street, Mingo Road, as more people realize they can take it to bypass Twin Cities Road. Because her street is in Sacramento County, she wanted to make sure the city has talked with the county about the increased traffic.

Surrounded by propped-up diagrams of the proposed project, DeZelle made it a point to talk with city staff about her concerns Monday night at a community open house. Wal-Mart organized the information session, which drew about 40 Galt residents to the Galt Police Department to ask questions about the proposed 133,000 square-foot store.

The store is planned for the southeast corner of Twin Cities and Fermoy Way. Even though it is not as big as a Wal-Mart Supercenter, the retailer will still sell groceries.

At the meeting, Wal-Mart had several representatives, including the project's architects, available to answer questions.

In many communities, Wal-Mart holds informational sessions to get feedback from the community, said company spokeswoman Angie Stoner.

"We want the information to be out to the public," she said. "We want to be open and upfront on what we are proposing."

The new Wal-Mart will have design features incorporated from other buildings in the Galt area, said architect Mike Salmon, of Perkowitz and Ruth Architects.

The new Wal-Marts are more pedestrian friendly, he said, and are not as oversized with large columns and tall entry ways as previous stores.

"The architectural intent is for it to be brought down, so people don't feel like they are going into the Parthenon in Greece," Salmon said. "It's more their scale."

The city also had associate planner Chris Erias at the meeting to talk about the plans to add roundabouts and make improvements at the Twin Cities and Highway 99 interchange. He said the improvements will move forward regardless of the Wal-Mart project, but it was a good opportunity to educate concerned residents.

Galt resident Jeanette Munsill was one of the people at the open house who did not support the project because of the location. For seven years she has lived off of Fermoy Way in a senior development, and while she said Galt needs a Wal-Mart, she is worried the traffic will not allow her to easily get in and out of her complex.

"We are just upset with the traffic and noise. It is not going to be safe, and the traffic will be so bad," she said. "We can't understand why it had to be that corner. There are so many areas it can be."

Got an opinion on Wal-Mart?

There is still more time to comment on the proposed Wal-Mart project.

Read the plan: The link to the project's environmental impact report is on the city's Web site at www.ci.galt.ca.us. The public has until Jan. 25 to comment on the planning documents.

Comment in writing: To comment on the Wal-Mart EIR, send your comments to: Attention: Chris Erias, Galt Planning Department, 495 Industrial Drive, Galt, CA 95632. Comments can also be faxed to 744-1642 or e-mailed to planning@ci.galt.ca.

Comment at a meeting: The Galt Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to receive feedback at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Galt City Council, 380 Civic Drive, Galt.

Also, the city will have a meeting 5:30 p.m. Monday at the City of Galt Police Department, 455 Industrial Drive, to educate residents about plans to modify the interchange of Highway 99 and Twin Cities Road.

Traffic was also a concern for Diane Vaira, who also lives off of Fermoy Way. At the very least, she said the city should put in a pedestrian crossing light, so people will be able to safety walk across the road between Wal-Mart and the Raley's shopping center.

"It's dangerous to cross the street there now," she said.

She sat next to Willy Hinsz, who said he is concerned that the store is too big for the lot, and it only has a 60-foot buffer between the building and the homes behind it. For big-box stores, he said usually the buffer is 100 feet.

While she understands people have concerns, Galt resident Lois Trant said she volunteers to drive seniors with South County Services, and she believes they could really benefit from a local Wal-Mart.

"I wanted to make sure Wal-Mart gets in here," she said. "I'm tired of going to Lodi everytime I want to get something."

Standing with Bradley Williams, her 8-year-old son, Pam Williams said she already shops at Wal-Mart in Elk Grove. By having the store closer, Williams said she won't have to plan special trips or make her husband pick up goods as he is driving home from work.

"We want it now," she said. "It can't come fast enough."

Even with her concerns about traffic, DeZelle still believes Wal-Mart is a good addition for Galt because it will provide the community with needed goods and services. She does not believe it will take business from Raley's, because local grocery store chains are able to give you more individualized service.

"Wal-Mart is a different commodity," she said. "Why can't we all co-exist?"

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com or read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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