Proposed renovations to the Westerville Square shopping center at the corner of South State Street and Schrock Road will be up for a public hearing and a final decision from Westerville City Council on July 5.

Proposed renovations to the Westerville Square shopping center at the corner of South State Street and Schrock Road will be up for a public hearing and a final decision from Westerville City Council on July 5.

Council heard the second reading of legislation at its June 21 meeting to allow for a modification of the development's site plan.

If approved, shopping center owner The Hadler Cos. would be able to move forward with plans to tear down three storefronts in the center to construct a 108,000-square-foot Walmart and to renovate the rest of the center to match the new construction with brick facade, brick columns, dormer windows and parapets.

The company also plans to upgrade the parking lot with more landscaping, greenspace with public art and seating on South State Street, and brick walls along South State Street and Otterbein Avenue.

At the first reading of the legislation June 7, council members expressed concerns over the effect the renovated center would have on traffic, particularly at the intersection of South State Street and Schrock Road.

They also questioned the 24-hour operation of the Walmart and requested further information from the city staff on other 24-hour retail operations in Westerville.

Council did not discuss the proposal during the June 21 meeting, but several residents spoke about the case during the meeting's public-comment session.

Richard Schulz said he viewed the plans for the redevelopment at a recent open house held by The Hadler Cos., and he believes the redevelopment will improve the area.

The current center, he said, is run down and doesn't represent Westerville well.

"It looks seedy," Schulz said. "This is not the Westerville that I thought I came to."

He said he believes the redevelopment would change that.

"By and large, I think we will maintain the kind of community that we came to," Schulz said.

He added that the redevelopment would increase the city's tax base and bring more jobs.

Becky Cheney, who lives near Westerville Square, said she has shared her concerns about the redevelopment with council, and she said she continues to worry about traffic, the 24-hour operation and the upkeep of the center.

She said she has found that many of her neighbors share her concerns.

Resident Carol Peterson said she stood outside of the Westerville Public Library on a recent Saturday and collected 81 signatures on a petition from people who do not want a Walmart in Westerville.

Those signing the petition wrote comments against having a big-box store in the city and saying that a Walmart would attract undesireable people to Westerville and that the corporation is "evil," Peterson told council.

"Just on one day, this many people are not happy with the Walmart," Peterson said.

City law director Bruce Bailey emphasized that council's decision will depend on The Hadler Cos. ability to present a plan that fits within the city's zoning regulations.

The city must apply laws equally to all applicants and cannot make rulings based on which company is filing an application, Bailey said.

"What the city deals with is use and not user," he said. "This is not about Walmart; it's about the development."