Havre Daily News
A 12-acre subdivision being sought by a local developer as the future home of a Wal-Mart Supercenter was unanimously approved by the Havre-Hill County Planning Board Tuesday at the Hill County Courthouse Annex meeting room.
The Hill County Commission has 60 days to hold public hearings and approve or deny the subdivision of the land just west of Kmart on U.S. Highway 2. No members of the public spoke at the public hearing portion of Tuesday's meeting.
Ron Harmon, who applied for the subdivision, said bringing the plans to the board and having them approved brings him one step closer to selling the land, and Hill County one step closer to having a Wal-Mart.
"Once this goes back to Wal-Mart, they will detemine anything else they need," he said.
Wal-Mart representatives have announced plans to open a 105,000-square-foot supercenter by the end of next year. The store would likely house a grocery center, garden shop and tire center, and may also have a gas station. A store of that size typically employs about 275 people, with 60 percent of those working full time, a company official said.
Harmon said Tuesday he has been told by Frontera Company, the company who is handling this development for this Wal-Mart, that if the store is built it will be the smallest of the company' supercenters. Anything smaller than that, he said, wouldn't be able to house a grocery store and would be a regular Wal-Mart. The first proposal they made to him asked for a 17-acre lot, he said, which is the lot size used on Wal-Mart's largest stores.
The board decided to approve the subdivision with two recommendations. First, that the plan include an easement for a 60-foot-wide road from U.S. Highway 87 to a connection spot with Second Street West, east of Kmart. The road would lie south of Kmart, behind that building and the proposed Wal-Mart building. Second, Harmon should build the road according to city standards, including curbs and drainage, and improve it if other buildings are added in future subdivisions, the board said.
These conditions are not binding by law, county planner Clay Vincent said today, but are taken into consideration by the commissioners.
The conditions were set because of concerns over access that may arise for subdivisions to the southwest of Kmart and the proposed Wal-Mart if a road isn't put in behind those buildings. Harmon said that road has always been a part of his plan for the land.
"I've got to put the frontage road in. It's not an option," he said. He said the original master plan he had drawn up after first purchasing the land in 1979 included that road. "We want to do a quality development out there. It deserves that."
As it is now, he said, there is only a 40-foot space between the back of the lot Wal-Mart is looking to purchase and hills to the south, not large enough for the road. He ran into this same situation when Kmart moved to that location and had to move a lot of earth to make room for the building.
Vincent said that by asking for those two conditions, the planning board has a good grasp of the big picture.
"I think the board is looking at it correctly, lookng at it long term and seeing what the next step is going to be," he said.