Looking back on the public furor surrounding the county's controversial decision to approve the location of a Wal-Mart Supercenter and Home Depot in the western part of the county, it all seems to be much ado about nothing, considering neither project will come to fruition any time soon.
Wal-Mart has pushed back the start date of construction for its store, which would be located at the intersection of Salem and Brown Bridge roads, by one or two years from now, according to spokesperson Glen Wilkins. At the time of its approval by the Newton County Board of Commissioners in January 2007, he said the store would likely open in 2008.
There are no current plans to build a second Home Depot in the county, according to Sarah Molinari, a spokesperson for the company.
"We don't own the site nor do we have any deal on the site," Molinari said, referring to the 34 acres of land located at the intersection of Ga. Highway 212 and Brown Bridge Road in District 2 that South Harbor Development received approval for in April 2007.
Original plans for the Home Depot were that it would occupy 132,000 square feet of land. At the time of its approval, South Harbor told the BOC the store would bring in an estimated $2 million in taxes to the county annually.
Wilkins said a new "internal strategy" of how Wal-Mart will build new stores in the future resulted in the decision to push back construction of the county's second Supercenter store.
When the proposal was first brought forward to build the store in 2006, critics said it would oversaturate the market with Wal-Marts. Covington already has one Supercenter on Ga. Highway 142. There is also another Supercenter in nearby Conyers.
"I wouldn't say it's an oversaturation, but we think the stores will probably perform better if we hold off for a while and see what's going on with confidence in the economy," Wilkins said. "The important thing is, we want to make sure we have the best store for the customer and that the stores are performing up to customer expectations."
It is likely that the Wal-Mart, which was proposed as a 204,000 square foot store on 33 acres of land, will be smaller than originally anticipated Wilkins said.
Some residents in District 2, who were originally concerned about what the extra traffic from the two stores would mean for congestion, are greeting the news of the stores' delays with relief.
"It's good and a wonderful thing for our community," said District 2 resident Kevin Hauck, who as one of the founding members of Newton Neighborhoods First, campaigned against the approval of both stores in 2007.
Hauck said congestion in the western end of the county is already bad enough without adding two new stores to it.
"Just going through those intersections is a task in itself. I actually quit shopping at [Brown Bridge Road] Kroger because it would take me 20 minutes to get to it," he said.