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Walmart tweaks training center design

WINCHESTER — Walmart has altered its design of a proposed employee training center, negating the need for public hearings on the project.

The 3,062-square-foot modular building on the eastern edge of the retail store’s parking lot at 2350 S. Pleasant Valley Road was originally intended to be built on a mobile chassis, making it subject to a formal review and approval process by the Winchester Planning Commission and City Council, and annual permit renewals as required by the city for portable structures.

Since Walmart already owns the land where the center is proposed, and since that land is already zoned for commercial construction, city Planner Timothy Youmans said last week the retailer could bypass the public approval process by placing the building on a permanent foundation rather than a portable platform.

Walmart got the message.

On Friday, Youmans emailed members of the Planning Commission to let them know the new training center will have a permanent foundation.

“Typically the plans for the foundation are submitted at a later date with the building permit application … but in light of the concern, they [Walmart] provided a preliminary drawing of the foundation design, which I then had our city building official [Vicky Palmerton] review,” Youmans wrote. “She has confirmed that it meets the definition of a permanent foundation. Zoning and Inspections Director Aaron Grisdale has also confirmed that this building would not be subject to annual review and reapproval.”

Youmans noted the building would be painted to match the Winchester discount store’s color scheme and be surrounded by extensive landscaping.

The section of the parking lot where the center would be located — a sparsely used area along Legge Boulevard — would be closed off to parking, and new islands would be installed to control traffic flow around the building, Youmans said.

“I have advised the applicant that they can move forward for administrative site plan approval without a public hearing at Planning Commission,” Youmans wrote in his email.

As of Saturday, four of the commission’s seven members — Mark Loring, Katt Eaton, Rick Fieo and Lacey Burnett — had replied to Youman’s email to express their support of his recommendation, meaning city staff will be able to approve the project without involving the commission or City Council.

A timeline for the training center’s construction has not been announced.

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com