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Wal-Mart wants link to mobile home parks

Pinellas Park council members will consider a connecting sidewalk with a parking area for golf carts and bikes, as well as other proposals.

By ANNE LINDBERG

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2000


PINELLAS PARK -- If Wal-Mart gets its way, some customers will never have to set foot on a highway in order to shop at the new supercenter.

On the north side of its proposed store at 8001 U.S. 19 N, Wal-Mart wants to build a parking area for golf carts and bicycles with a connecting sidewalk, 6 feet wide, to Golden Gate and Sunset Palms mobile home parks.

"One, it's being a good neighbor. Two, it's good business sense," Pinellas Park zoning director Tom Shevlin said.

The golf cart/bike parking area is just one item in Wal-Mart's site plan that Pinellas Park council members will consider Thursday.

The council is expected to rule on variances regarding ground cover, wall height and landscaping as well as permitting Wal-Mart to operate a plant nursery in the supercenter.

Higher walls are neighborly, Shevlin said, since they'll better protect neighbors from the noise and lights generated by a store open 24 hours a day.

The council meeting, open to the public, will begin at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 5141 78th Ave. N.

Council endorsement of the nursery and the variances should eliminate the final obstacles to opening the first supercenter in south Pinellas County.

It's been a long time coming.

Wal-Mart tried to open a supercenter in southern St. Petersburg in 1998 but withdrew after neighbors and environmentalists objected.

Soon after, Wal-Mart tried to purchase property adjacent to its Pinellas Park store on U.S. 19. Again, after neighbors and environmentalists protested, the company retreated.

The latest site was approved last year. Construction is expected to begin late this year on the U.S. 19 location that currently houses the Movies at Pinellas Park and a drive-in ministry.

The store, with 224,052 square feet, will have a grocery store and auto/tire lube center in addition to the plant nursery. A gas station also is planned for the property.

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