Wal-Mart hearing set back until 2003

Company asks for time to address county’s concerns

The first hearing over Wal-Mart’s plans for a supercenter has been postponed until January of 2003.

On Monday, officials from the national chain store were granted a request by county officials for more time to address design concerns. The site plans for the proposed 185,000 square foot store were to have been given a first look tonight by the Hood River County Planning Commission.

Wal-Mart asked for a continuation of the hearing following the recommendation by county planners last week that the application be denied because it failed to meet six key areas of concern.

“We requested the delay to the hearing so that we could further address the county provisions and concerns,” said Amy Hill, Wal-Mart spokesperson.

Mike Benedict, county planning director, said the hearing will be rescheduled for early January, although no firm date has yet been chosen.

“This continuance is not unusual and would be expected of an applicant who receives notice their site plan is contested,” said Will Carey, county land-use counsel.

He said the 16-acre property at the junction of Frankton and Country Club roads already allows for commercial development. Therefore, a retail store is an outright permitted use so the review of design standards is a much more “flexible” process than a proposal to change zoning — which puts the burden of proof on the applicant to show why the criteria should change on their behalf.

“We’re not talking about a change of use here, we’re talking about the physical characteristics of the development of the site,” said Carey. “Because this is more of an administrative process the applicant has every legal right to propose that they be able to take the plans back to the drawing table and meet those standards.”

He said because of the size of Wal-Mart’s proposed project, the site plan review is much more complicated and takes longer to process. However, he said the county factors public input about the site plans into its final decision about the application and will make sure local citizens are afforded ample opportunity for comment.

“The county wants to ensure that nobody is blindsided, that this process is open and fair and all members of the public who want to be heard on the applicable criteria will be heard,” Carey said.

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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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