Wal-Mart seeks postponed hearing

The first hearing over Wal-Mart plans for a Supercenter may be postponed from the scheduled July 31 date until the end of August.

Eric Walker, senior county planner, said Wal-Mart officials have requested a time extension to prepare materials for the hearing. Walker said if that request is granted, the first hearing before the Hood River County Planning Commission will be delayed and re-advertised so that citizens are afforded the opportunity for comment.

If the county decides against that request, the formal review of Wal-Mart’s application will begin at 6:30 p.m. on the third floor of the county courthouse.

Walker said, to date, the county has received more than 300 official written and oral comments on the schematics for a 185,000 square foot store at the junction of Frankton and Country Club roads. That correspondence is in addition to the December submission of a 1,056 signature petition against the development and another petition with 2,000 names in favor.

He said there is a strict set of criteria governing quasi-judical hearings which must be able to stand up to a court challenge. Therefore, Walker said that although all citizens comments are welcome, those centered on the decision criteria will carry the most weight.

“Our evaluation can’t be based on arbitrary opinions or emotional factors,” said Walker.

The central items under scrutiny are the compatibility of the project with the surrounding area, design details, building placement, parking, protection of natural resources — including air quality — traffic issues, and support infrastructure.

Walker said written remarks will be given the same consideration in the decision-making process as verbal testimony.

Mike Benedict, planning director, is asking that written comments be submitted prior to the scheduled hearing date. He said that will allow time for duplication and collation so they can be included in the planning commission’s review packets.

At the upcoming hearing, both pro and con arguments will be heard and speakers will be given a maximum of three minutes for a presentation. If there is not enough time for the commissioners to listen to all oral remarks, Walker said the hearing will likely be continued to a second evening.

Copies of Wal-Mart’s application are available for review in the planning department at no cost or may be purchased for 25 cents per page. A copy of the staff report will be available for inspection or purchase at least seven days prior to the first hearing.

The controversial application was first submitted by Wal-Mart in December. In mid-January the county outlined 57 areas of concern that required more in-depth information, primarily about traffic, infrastructure and wetland protection.

The updated plans were returned on May 30 and the application was deemed complete on June 14, which set the clock ticking on the 120-day review period. However, Walker said if Wal-Mart is granted an extension on the site plan review, the added days will not count.

The updated application includes 788 parking spaces with numerous tree wells and other plantings throughout the lot.

The west-facing store front remains as originally shown with columns, canopies and a breezeway to break up the 550-foot face.

Fish culverts and more riparian landscaping have also been added.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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