Street Fight

City attacked for Wal-Mart plan

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When Hal Tuttle bought his house on Riverview Avenue 26 years ago, he knew there was a chance that someday, a street could run between his and his neighbor's home.

So he said he's not surprised that there may be a plan to construct an access street to a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter near his house.

"There's nothing I can do about it," Tuttle said.

Not all of Riverview Avenue's 10 homeowners are as resigned.

Wal-Mart's plans to build a 100,000-square-foot discount store in Craig are at a standstill until the Colorado Department of Transportation approves the retailer's plans for street access to the store.

Wal-Mart officials propose that primary access to its proposed supercenter be from U.S. Highway 40 and that a stoplight be placed between Fourth Avenue West and Riverview Avenue to control traffic. The retailer would create a second access by extending Fourth Avenue West.

The Colorado Department of Transportation requires a third access to the store, and city officials are recommending the construction of a street that's already platted -- West Drive.

"We're trying to be sympathetic to residents while still complying with state regulations," city Community Development Director Dave Costa said.

Fewer residents will be affected by the construction of West Drive than would be if there were access from the south of the store or a second access to the east, Costa said. Also, West Drive ends at vacant, commercially zoned property.

Call to protest

Now, some residents are accusing city officials of deception. But the city's accusers so far are anonymous.

Someone is circulating a flier urging residents to protest the development, specifically the West Drive access. Also making the rounds is a more gently-worded letter urging residents to contact the Department of Transportation.

Neither the flier nor the letter is signed.

"It would be great to have a Wal-Mart in town, but the proposed location is really bad for our neighborhood," the letter stated.

But according to a traffic study, less than 1 percent of Wal-Mart shoppers and delivery trucks would use West Drive to get to the store, Costa said.

The anonymous letter writer argues that people won't use the stoplight on U.S. 40 or the turn on Fourth Street West to get to the Supercenter.

Instead, the letter's author asserts, drivers would turn at the stoplight on Mack Lane or Colorado Highway 13 and take Third Street to Riverview and Riverview to West Drive.

"If we don't act now, we will have a constant stream of traffic down Third Street in both directions, making it difficult for us to get in and out of our neighborhood, dangerous for kids walking to the park and exhaust fumes and noise from cars and delivery trucks at all hours of the day and night," the letter stated.

Waiting for plans

Costa said the bulk of traffic, including delivery trucks, is expected to get to Wal-Mart on U.S. 40.

Tuttle lives on the north side of what will be West Drive. Bill Terrill lives directly to the south.

"What am I going to do about it?" Terrill said. "There's no way that it's going to get stopped. I wish they weren't putting a road in, but I don't know what I can do."

His neighbor to the south, Tim Rolando, said his only concern is whether there's a buffer between the homes and the store.

"We should wait until they present what they have before we all get up in arms," he said.

City officials still are waiting for Wal-Mart to submit a revised sketch plan, which would show the proposed access recommended by the state.

But until such a plan is submitted, the city can't do anything, Costa said.

"I haven't seen anything the state has OK'd yet," he said.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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