Walmart addresses expansion opposition

November 19, 2011

Walmart has responded to opponents of its proposed 30,000-square-foot expansion with the submission of two 12-page documents provided to the Hood River City Planning Commission Nov. 15.

In the first letter, signed by Walmart's attorney, Gregory Hathaway, and entitled "Written Closing Statement," Hathaway addresses five key points of the opposition, making arguments and citing other legal cases to support an approval of the proposed 30,000-square-foot expansion now under consideration.

In the second document, prepared by PACLAND, developers for Walmart, specific issues of concern over current stormwater management practices, raised by opponents, are addressed.

Walmart takes on the heart of the opposition's case in section II of its statement. Hathaway, on behalf of Walmart, asks the question: "Did the planning commission approve an expansion of the store in 1991?"

In response, Walmart contends, among five other points, that the original planners did not expressly deny Walmart's request for the expansion. The company goes on to contend that normal procedure for a planning commission in denying a "portion" of any project, would be to expressly state that it is doing so in the "Decision" ruling.

Walmart also contends that the original planners would have had to adopt findings of fact and conclusions of law in order to support a denial for a portion of an otherwise approved project.

Walmart's rebuttal continued on, offering support to its claims of "vested" rights to expand, which pre-date the changes in zoning and limited permitted uses which now exist at the site, returning to a review of factors which "test" for "vested" rights.

Reviewing in detail the exact wording of its original agreement with the city, Walmart also laid out a case for the sale of groceries at the site, even though groceries were not listed in the commission's 1991 approval.

The entire 12 pages of the second Walmart rebuttal document were dedicated to addressing stormwater management concerns.

Both documents conclude that none of the opponent's arguments or legal citations are valid and that therefore the planning commission must rule in favor of expansion rights.

The commissioners have been provided copies of Walmart's rebuttals to the opponent-raised issues.

If it is determined that Walmart introduced new evidence in its rebuttals, another round of public comment will be triggered.

If no further public comment is warranted the commission will use the Walmart responses, existing public comment and historic documentation, to render its decision Tuesday after the commission meeting begins at 5:30.

With the recusal of commission chair Kate McBride, only six members of the commission will be voting on the ruling.

Public testimony will be allowed, but new evidence will only be considered if the commission deems that Walmart included new evidence themselves within its rebuttals.

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