Wal-Mart turns in final plans during debate

Even as public debate over a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter was underway last Thursday at the Hood River Rotary Club, the updated schematics were being handed over to county planners.

Wal-Mart foe Al Norman and Amy Hill, Wal-Mart community affairs director for the western region, were presenting pro and con arguments when the thick package of documents arrived 15 days ahead of the anticipated delivery date.

In January, the county asked the national chain store to provide more in-depth information on 57 issues that centered primarily on traffic, infrastructure and wetland protection. In December, Wal-Mart submitted a proposal to construct a 185,000 square foot store on a little more than 16 acres at the junction of Frankton and Country Club roads.

Eric Walker, senior planner, said he and other staffers will spend this week reviewing hundreds of pages of documentation that outlines Wal-Mart’s answer to these areas of concern.

“I think they’ve met most of the issues we asked for but we’re still in the evaluation process,” said Walker.

If the application is deemed complete, Walker said the clock will begin ticking on the 120-day review period and the first Planning Commission meeting is expected to take place between late July and mid-August. If he and other staffers conclude there are still questions to be answered, they will request further information from Scott Franklin of Pacific Land Designs, the Clackamas-based firm that is overseeing the regulatory process for the proposal.

Walker said the four most notable new additions to the Wal-Mart plan are:

The north-facing entrance has been revamped to make it more attractive from the freeway and Country Club Road access.

Fish passage culverts have been placed under both Frankton and Country Club roads for flows from Phelps Creek, which Wal-Mart proposes to re-route back into its original channel.

About one-half of an acre has been added to landscaping plans that restore the riparian area around Phelps Creek.

A kiosk and small picnic area is proposed between the existing Country Club Road intersection with West Cascade Avenue and its proposed relocation of about 500 feet to the east. The small park is intended to mitigate the widening of West Cascade Avenue, which is part of the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Walker said the remainder of the application remains much the same, except that Wal-Mart has broadened the area for its traffic analysis to include most of the intersections in the western part of the city and urban growth area. He said this new information will be reviewed by both county engineering staff and a special consultant.

The new plans include 788 parking spaces with numerous tree wells and other plantings throughout the lot and the west-facing store front remains as originally shown with columns, canopies and a breezeway to break up the 550-foot face. Wal-Mart is still proposing to widen Frankton Road for two additional access points and include a landscaped sidewalk and a bicycle lane.

In the past six months, Walker said the county planning department has received more than 200 e-mails and direct mail comments to include in the formal record. He said that correspondence is in addition to December submission of a 1,056 signature petition against the development and another petition with 2,000 names in favor of the larger store.

Prior to the first Planning Commission meeting, Walker said notices will be sent out to property owners within 500 feet of the proposed Supercenter and the event will be well advertised to provide opportunity for public comment.

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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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