NORTH ATTLEBORO - Wal-Mart withdrew its application for a major expansion Tuesday, saying it would reapply later, after developers were lambasted by the conservation commission for failing to do their homework.

Conservation commission members barraged the applicant with concerns - including problems with the store's original construction, when a rare slope collapsed and workers ruptured a gas pipeline that forced the evacuation of Route 1 and surrounding neighborhoods, including Emerald Square mall.

With a parking lot that already floods during rain storms and problems with trash in neighboring wetlands, conservation commission members said Wal-Mart has not been cooperative in the past.

"Wal-Mart's out there in the public eye saying it's going green. It's not going green with us," commission Chairwoman Marie Clarner said.

She brought up several concerns about delicate soils on the property.

"I'm not trying to give you a hard time, but you needed to find out what you're stepping into before you came in. The soils are very difficult to work with there and the rear slope collapsed during construction," Clarner said. "They had people in wet boots with buckets trying to clean up the wetlands when that happened. It was a disaster."

Wal-Mart is seeking to add a 66,279-square-foot addition for a grocery store to its existing building on Route 1.

Because the project is on the North Attleboro and Attleboro line, hearings are required in both communities.

Carpionato Properties owns the land where Wal-Mart sets in North Attleboro Marketplace.

The conservation commission is involved in permitting because the construction would occur within a 100-foot buffer zone that surrounds wetlands. The wetlands themselves would not be disturbed.

In addition to the concerns raised about construction, the conservation commission said the proper paperwork had not been filed.

The application filed was a Request for Determination of Applicability, which is typically used for small projects. For larger projects, a Notice of Intent is normally filed, which requires more detailed analysis and requires input from wetlands scientists and engineers

Clarner hoisted a 4-inch thick stack of paperwork from the Notice of Intent that was filed when Wal-Mart was first constructed, and said that process should be used again.

"How much investigating did you do into the notice of intent that was originally filed? Were you aware there were enforcement actions taken and the project was shut down for a long time? Were you aware that we have had at least three store managers in here because of the way the site has been kept?" Clarner demanded.

The engineer and wetlands scientist said they were not aware of the issues raised.

Commission member Mark Roberts pointed out that many of the issues could have been hashed out if Wal-Mart had come before the board for a workshop session prior to the hearing.

"Wal-Mart knows we have the workshop process. It's a chance for us to give input on what went good and what went bad on the original project," he said.

Faced with the questions, John Kokot of Carpionato Properties asked the board to withdraw the application without prejudice. He said a new application, filed as a Notice of Intent will be submitted, but not until after a workshop session with the conservation commission.

AMY DeMELIA can be reached at 508-236-0334 or at ademelia@thesunchronicle.com.

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(8) comments

anonymous

The only "green" that WalMart cares about is the "green" money flowing back into their pockets! They should be ashamed of themselves; they caused disruption to natural wetlands when they first constructed the store, and now they want to proceed with more of the same? Sure...that "buffer zone" may be 100 yards, but look around that same zone in the accompanying backwoods and properties; the ten mile flows abudently through that area, as well as leads out to Attleboro watershed. That area is ALWAYS wetlands, and is some of the most populated by wildlife. Why should we give up an area that is conservation and wetlands so a conglomerate can (ONCE AGAIN) destroy the natural habitat?
I can certainly understand why they don't care enough about trash and materials getting back into the environment...take a look outside their store! Coming up route 1 heading north, one will see the many carriages that have landed down the front hillside, and trash overflowing into the lower wetlads from their store. Even at the front entrance of the store, there are always trash receptacles overflowing with junk, and the papers are just left to blow all over the place? Inside the store there is more trash; the aisles are often cluttered with merchandise that isn't handled properly. If they can't manage their own store now, what is to say they'll do a better job of cleaning up in the future? Can WalMart please butt out, and leave well enough alone?

anonymous

The trash left on that site doesn't come from WalMart, it comes from the customers who believe WalMart should pay to dispose of the trash in their cars. Don't blame WalMart for all the trash, much is coming from fellow North Attleboro residents. The best way for them to handle the trash problem is to remove the cans from the front of the store. Go hug a tree in someone elses world.

anonymous

David! No matter where the trash came from it's still generated from the WalMart grounds. It's probably people who them seleves don't care about the enviroment. Be a people watcher and see just how they handle their trash. If the parents don't teach their kid's about litter who will. Watch the kid's open a candy bar or whatever, without thinking, on the ground goes the wrapper. Where do you think they get that from. So if the people took a little responsibility where the trash should go, then maybe it would'nt be an issue and flying into your windshield. And for the consevation comm..I have deer,turkey,racoons,migrating birds, etc. in my backyard, in the spring and fall, and I live xactly 1/10 mile from city hall. So keep giving up the wetland's, and maybe I'll get more of a verity, and I really enjoy it. Maybe I should get a wildlife sanctions permit. Maybe if I wait long enough city hall will have one.

anonymous

Usually replacement of wetlands means creating some fetid pond surrounded by a chainlink fence. (See South Attleboro off Jason Lane, Wrentham Outlets, Emerald Sq mall, Bristol Place Shopping Center.) Great for attracting bugs and trash. And regardless of the origin, The trash would not be there if Wal-Mart had not build a store.

Don't we have enough retail in the area?

anonymous

The wetlands won't be disturbed. Where does the parking lot drainage go with it's trash, leaked gasoline, oil, anti-freeze, transmission fluid etc. Doesn't it find it's way into the wetlands?

anonymous

My favorite Wal-Mart trash are the boxes left behind when people realize that a new appliance won't fit in their vehicle, so they remove it from the box, leave the box in the parking lot and drive off with their purchase - unsecured - moving around in the back seat of the car.

anonymous

Go easy on the Walmart criticism. Walmart is an economic powerhouse that has created hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs. Unfortunately they're all in China. But they are good jobs

anonymous

Mr David Adams:

I would wager my life savings that most of the Wal Mart trash is coming from those from our bordering state. I have seen the North Attleboro Wal Mart and its property go from nice and clean, to a rat-infested pit. Thanks to the low tax rate in MA; our nicest shopping areas attract the people that just don't care about our towns and environment.
Wal Mart should shoulder the majority of the blame; there would be much less trash had they not built in that location...

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