Plans proceed for Wal-Mart

The pre-application meeting for a proposed Wal Mart super center on Oct. 29 was crowded with more than 20 officials from Hood River agencies.

Mike Benefit, county planning director, was pleased with the "low key, professional" tone of the meeting which centered on environmental, traffic and design concerns.

Wal Mart representatives were Scott Franklin and Robert Hatfield of Pacific Land Designs, the company which is laying the regulatory groundwork for the development.

Earlier this month, the Clackamas-based firm submitted preliminary sketches for a 185,000 square foot retail store on a little more than 16 acres at the junction of Frankton and County Club roads.

"We're very excited about this project, I think we can come up with a plan that all parties can live with," Franklin told the group.

The key topics of discussion at the Oct. 29 meeting were the protection of Phelps Creek, which runs through the property, incorporating existing trees and vegetation into development plans, alleviating flooding during storms off the 12-acre hard-surfaced parking lot, and accommodating the dramatic increase of vehicle and pedestrian traffic into the area.

Cindy Walbridge, city planning director, told Franklin that it would be difficult for a massive structure to meet county design codes that required it to be compatible with the surrounding area, a prerequisite even though the land is zoned for commercial use.

"Compatibility is going to be a tough one, but I think it's a standard that needs to be addressed," said Walbridge.

Although the proposed building site does not lie within the city's jurisdiction, Walbridge told Franklin that the county had adopted design elements developed by the city in the mid-90s that would require the building facade to be broken up by architectural elements to add "visual interest." She also recommended that Wal Mart make the height and width of its signs compatible with the city's sign code since the property was slated for annexation sometime in the future and any non-compatible advertisements would then need to be replaced.

Anne Saxby, director of the Hood River Soil and Water Conservation District, said that agency was concerned about the proposed straightening of Phelps Creek because it would increase the velocity of water flows downstream that could lead to bank erosion. In addition, she said removal of shade trees could threaten the habitat of native trout runs.

Jeanette Kloos, scenic highway coordinator for the Oregon Department of Transportation, informed Franklin that any widening of West Cascade Avenue, which is also the federally-protected historic Columbia River Highway, was not allowed by law without mitigation measures that met the approval of all involved parties.

Franklin was asked to submit a wetland inventory and traffic engineering studies with Wal-Mart's official application forms.

"Ultimately, the burden is going to be on you to show compliance with these standards," said Eric Walker, senior planner for the county.

Once those documents have been received, Mike Benedict, county planning director, said citizens will be provided with the opportunity to comment on the proposed design elements. He told Franklin that the city had recently adopted a code limiting the size of commercial structures within its jurisdiction to 50,000 square feet. Benedict said the new ordinance had been forwarded to the county for review on Oct. 12 and, following due process, could be adopted within 180 days.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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