Group files appeal against city on Walmart decision

January 25, 2012

According to Cindy Walbridge, city planner for Hood River, the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals has received a notice of intent to appeal filed by the nonprofit citizen's group Hood River Citizens for a Local Economy and Becky Brun.

The notice of intent to appeal is the first step Brun and HRCLE are taking to bring legal opposition to the recent city council decision which approved a 30,000-square-foot expansion to the Walmart store on Cascade Avenue.

At its Dec. 27 meeting, the city council ruled 5 to 2 to overrule a Nov. 22 city planning council decision that had originally denied the expansion.

Attorney Kenneth D. Helm filed the notice with LUBA on behalf of the petitioners against the City of Hood River - the governing body that made the final local decision on Walmart's application. Brun is the director of GO! Gorge Owned Business Network.

In its LUBA appeal HRCLE is challenging the legal sufficiency of the local government's decision based on the evidence that was before the local government. The city serves as the "respondent" for the appeal. LUBA's decision can then either support, modify or nullify the city's previous final order.

According to a link on the GO! website, "HRCLE is a nonprofit corporation incorporated in the State of Oregon that is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of a prosperous, localized economy in Hood River that protects the health, safety and welfare of the people who call Hood River home."

LUBA is the only forum that can hear appeals of local land use decisions made by local governments. The circuit courts no longer can hear such appeals.

According to the LUBA website, LUBA functions like an appellate court. It is not a political body. LUBA's procedures are more formal and its role is more technical than the role of local government decision-makers. LUBA is staffed by three governor- appointed attorneys who are experts in land use planning law.

The only evidence that LUBA can consider in its review is the evidence already in the record of the decision - which includes both the city council deliberations and those of the previous city planning council.

Once LUBA issues its ruling, any party including HRCLE, the city or Walmart, can forward the LUBA ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals for final appeal.

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