The Henrico County Planning Commission unanimously approved controversial plans for a 90,000-square-foot Walmart at the Reynolds Crossing development.
Bonnie-Leigh Jones, a member of the planning commission who represents the Tuckahoe district where the store would be located, had previously voiced concerns about the development but said that Walmart had met all the development’s requirements, including increasing landscape buffering between the neighborhood and the store and making architectural changes.
During proceedings Tuesday morning, the planning commission staff said Walmart had changed its architectural plans to look like the Shoppes at Westgate and added planters and seating areas, all part of the proffered conditions.
Three people spoke in opposition to the development, all from the neighboring housing development, Charles Glen.
“We’ve been actively involved in the process of developing Reynolds Crossing,” one resident said at the hearing. “And when we look out of our backyards now, instead of the coffee shops and plantings that we wanted, we’ll be looking at a four-story building.”
The residents had previously been assured that no retailer over 90,000 square feet would build on the property, a provision that had been worked out in the site’s master plan in 2007.
Tommy Branin, chairman of the planning commission, said in the hearing that his understanding was that the residents were OK in 2007 with a big retailer, just not a Walmart.
“At that time,” Branin said, “There wasn’t a Walmart in the country that was less than 120,000 square feet. Who could have predicted that they would now want to come and do a 90,000-square-foot development?”
Jones said the commission had heard the residents’ complaints but that the commission was limited in what it could do to address them so long as Walmart’s plan was within the guidelines of the master plan.
“It is not within the purview of this commission to dictate business practices, and it is not in the purview of this commission to promote an alternate site,” she said.
The final vote was 5-0.
A call to Reynolds Development, the project’s developer, was not returned by press time.