There won't be a Walmart in Aspen Hill after all. According to the Washington Business Journal, Walmart has withdrawn its reported plans for a location on the former Vitro site on Connecticut Avenue at Aspen Hill Road. While those in the community who opposed the Walmart may be celebrating, the reality is that the alternatives could be far worse.
A high-density, luxury residential building would have far greater impact on the neighborhood, towering over nearby single-family homes, adding rush hour traffic to roads, and putting even greater strain on Aspen Hill-area public schools.
The site is far more appropriate for retail use, consistent with other properties in the busy commercial area of Aspen Hill. Walmart - or another big box retailer - would have been no different in practical terms from Kmart or Home Depot. Politically, it's another story in a county that spent $4 million to get a single Costco store in Wheaton, for mostly ideological reasons.
This could still be a successful ending for both Lee Development, and the residents, if one of two things happen. First, the attraction of either a big box store residents welcome, or of an anchor for a new shopping center on the site. Alternatively, landing a major corporation's headquarters would energize nearby businesses, and would not require a zoning change.