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WALMART MOVES AHEAD WITH SPRING HILL STORE

Work could start soon on Hernando's first Neighborhood Market.

Hernando County's first Walmart Neighborhood Market cleared one more step for approval last week after company representatives addressed the concerns of county staffers.

The proposed 40,000-square-foot store in Spring Hill would draw customers from the nearby communities of Pristine Place. Neighborhood Markets represents the giant discount chain's recent focus on scaled-down merchandise and groceries for get-in, get-out shoppers.

By comparison the three Walmart Supercenters in Hernando average 186,000 square feet, said Frank Porter, project manager for Lochrane Engineering Inc., of Orlando, who responded to planners' concerns at the half-hour meeting.

The market at the corner of Spring Hill Drive and Anderson Snow Road will occupy 7.8 acres. Walmart will provide 168 parking slots, including seven handicapped spaces. The pharmacy will have a drive-through.

Construction will begin when the permitting phase is completed, which could span as much as two months. Actual construction is expected to take six to nine months, said Walmart spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg.

"Our Neighborhood Market stores give our customers quick and easy access to a wide variety" of groceries, fresh produce, prescription drugs, health and beauty supplies and select household items, she said.

An in-store bakery and deli also is included, as is an adjacent gas station. No variances are needed because the land is zoned commercial.

At the meeting last week, county traffic specialist Ernie Lane said a study will determine whether Walmart must provide access turning lanes on Spring Hill Drive and Anderson Snow.

The county also requires the 35-foot buffers surrounding the site to be landscaped rather than relying on existing vegetation.

Only a couple of members of the public attended the meeting and none offered comments.

The Spring Hill market will be the chain's 36th in Florida and one of about 340 nationwide.

Contact Beth Gray at graybethn@earthlink.net.

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