They also heard accusations made against city government.
There was more discussion during Wednesday's Board of Aldermen workshop on a request to rezone the Frederick Town Mall property. The owners, Rockwell Capital, want the 39.38-acre parcel rezoned to General Commercial from its current Mixed Use. That would enable a Wal-Mart store move in.
During Wednesday's workshop, the owners told elected officials they have met many of the city's concerns regarding the property. "We really, firmly believe that the plan that we've proposed to you, and the one we've proposed to construct as a condition of rezoning of the mall, meets the goals and visions of the Small Area Plan. We stand by that," said David Severein, an attorney representing the owners.
If the rezoning is granted, along with the other necessary permits, the owners plan to tear down the Mall between Boscov's and Home Depot, which is currently unoccupied., and construct a Wal-Mart.
The Mall's owners told the Mayor and Board that they've met most of the recommendations presented to them as part of the rezoning. But they said they cannot move any of the buildings proposed on site.
"Nothing has been built yet. Help me to understand why when nothing has been built, it's not possible to move a building that doesn't exist," asked Alderman Michael O'Connor. "From a planning perspective, we think that will block the views of cars coming into the site, making right turns. The building will be in the way. It will also block the view to Wal-Mart's main entrance," responded Steve Ishkin with DLC Management.
The two were talking about two buildings being proposed to the south of Home Depot, one of which could feature sidewalk cafés.
The Board of Aldermen is planning to hold a hearing on July 10th at 7:00 PM on the conditions of the rezoning request.
During the public comment period, John Tobin made some allegations against Rockwell Capital. "We have direct e-mail correspondence with Folger, Pratt and Buchanan Partners as having an interest in the site as recent as March of last year. Unfortunately, when approaching them again about the property, they expressed disinterest now that Wal Mart is part of the plan. This is a zoning issue. However, what appears to be happening is falling to the whims of Rockwell Capital. Remember, we granted them what they wanted, and it gave us the blight we have today."
The owners of the Frederick Town Mall property originally wanted to put in some residential units as well as retail outlets, but that idea fell through when the economy soured a few years ago.
Tobin also charged the city with silencing the opposition to Wal-Mart. "The Neighborhood Advisory Committees were possibly given a gag order by the city delegate to the NAC regarding this plan," Tobin says. "These committees are supposed to be a direct intermediary between the community and the city government regarding the Small Area Plan. As such, their voices may have been made silent."
Tobin said there is strong opposition to Wal-Mart, pointing to a petition signed by 1500 people.
"There's no way to defend that kind of an allegation, other than to say it's ridiculous," responded Alderman Michael O'Connor. He called them "broad allegations of, for lack of a better word, the suggestion that the fix is in."
"What I would want, more than anything else, would be for hundreds of people to attend our public hearing on the 10th; for hundreds of people to communicate their wishes on this rezoning," says O'Connor.
Even if the rezoning is approved, the owners of the Frederick Town Mall property would still have to undergo a site plan approval process before Wal-Mart can begin construction.