WalMart expansion plan moves ahead in a surprising way: calmly

Plans to expand the East Marlborough WalMart into a SuperCenter appear on track.

Plans to expand the East Marlborough WalMart into a SuperCenter appear on track.

Supervisors ask for trail paving, traffic light re-timing; SuperCenter expansion seems likely for 2011
By Mike McGann, Editor,

EAST MARLBOROUGH — After nearly two decades of contentious back and forth over first the creation of a WalMart and the pending expansion of the site into a SuperCenter —  a funny thing happened: the Board of Supervisors engaged in a calm, low-key discussion with representatives of the property owner and approved the site’s engineering plan.

While the process has generally been marked with acrimony — as recently as earlier this year, the supervisors were reluctant to expand the store’s operating and delivery hours to accommodate the addition of more grocery items — Monday night was about as harmonious as such a proceeding can be. Marc Kaplan, an attorney representing the property owner, worked to accommodate the supervisors’ fairly short list of requests before granting the next stage of approval needed to get work under way for the expansion — an expansions of some 21,000 feet — and renovation of the store.

Supervisors at first asked that the walking trail around the store be restored to its original condition — and then upon further discussion asked that the center four-feet of the path be paved to improve usability. Supervisors also asked — as also sought by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation — a retiming of the traffic lights along the U.S. 1 corridor from the store to Bayard Road. Supervisors asked for the lights to be retimed sooner rather than later — as the net increase of traffic to the store is expected to be minimal, followed by a “tweaking” of the timing once the work on the expansion is complete. PennDOT has already issued permits for retiming the lights to improve traffic flow.

Kaplan was willing to agree and would pass on his recommendations to WalMart’s management and suggested he didn’t think that there would be any objection and that an attempt would be made to have retiming done as soon as possible.

The next step will require WalMart to come before the board with a formal building plan — details of the expansion. Assuming that plan is approved, and building permits are issued, work would begin shortly thereafter.

The site of these two eateries will be combined in 2011 into a new outlet for La Tolteca — a regional Mexican chain of restuarants.

In other news: supervisors approved the conversion of two existing retail eating establishments into one. The now-closed Firehouse BBQ and the evidently soon to close Wings to Go at Schoollhouse Crossing will be converted into a single restaurant: La Tolteca. The local chain of Mexican restaurants already has outlets in West Chester, Wilmington and would be open only for dinner, starting at 4:30 p.m. The owners will be seeking to transfer an existing liquor license — with a hearing scheduled for January.

If all goes according to schedule, the restaurant noted for its excellent, authentic Mexican food is expected to open in March.

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