Wal-Mart hearing set for July

Written, oral comments accepted through July 9 on proposed Supercenter

Wal-Mart plans for a Supercenter will be given a hard look by the Hood River County Planning Commission in late July.

The final application was deemed complete by planners last Friday, which set the clock ticking on the 120-day review period.

Both oral and written comments are now being accepted by Mike Benedict, county planning director, for inclusion in the formal record. That documentation will be presented to the seven-member quasi-judicial body on Wednesday, July 31, at 6:30 p.m. in the County Courthouse.

“The comments that we have received to date are already part of the written record and, therefore, people don’t need to resubmit them,” said Eric Walker, senior planner.

He said some citizens erroneously believe that verbal testimony carries more weight than written remarks when all submissions are given equal consideration.

“Because of the exceptional interest in this application we encourage people to give us their written comments prior to the scheduled hearing date,” Walker said.

He said oral and written statements received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9 will be incorporated into the staff report prior to the hearing. In the past six months, Walker said the county has received more than 200 e-mails and direct mail comments, correspondence that is in addition to December submission of a 1,056 signature petition against the development and another petition with 2,000 names in favor.

At the July 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 verbal remarks, Walker said the hearing will likely be continued at the same time and location on Aug. 7.

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. The proposal is for a 185,000 square foot Supercenter on 16 acres at the junction of Frankton and Country Club Roads. 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 include 788 parking paces 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. Changes made since December include:

Revamping the north-facing entrance to make it more attractive from the freeway and County Club Road access.

Placing fish passage culverts 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.

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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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