After a day and half of testimony from the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD) witnesses and community members, CLC Associates had their say in the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman. CLC is the firm that was hired to develop the Supercenter’s site plan. The second day of hearings took place last Friday at Pullman City Hall.
After PARD’s final witness, CLC brought to the stand the team of engineers who designed the Supercenter site plan. CLC’s witnesses, as well as Pullman public works director Mark Workman, testified that the plan meets or exceeds city standards for development.
A fiscal impact study commissioned by Wal-Mart was entered into the record by Bill Reid, a Portland-based land use strategist. PARD had been clamoring for a fiscal impact study, and seemed to be caught off guard by Reid’s statement.
The fiscal impact study was the first piece of Pullman-specific research presented in the case.
“The development of a Supercenter would help capture retail sales tax in Pullman,” said Reid, who estimated $92 million was “leaking” into Moscow and Spokane businesses.
Reid’s report stated that the Supercenter would have little to no impact on the specialty stores in downtown Pullman and suggested Wal-Mart would keep shoppers in town, boosting business throughout the city.
“I found only 12 percent of downtown businesses would effectively compete with Wal-Mart,” said Reid.
“Our customers already spend half of every dollar out of town,” said Joshua Coke. “If we can survive that, we can certainly survive Wal-Mart.”
Reid said the Supercenter would provide approximately $42,000 in yearly sales tax revenue for Pullman. (No, that's what the City study found. Reid said that was low by a factor of 15 or so. He estimated around $500,000 in yearly sales tax.)
PARD’s attorney, Brian McGinn asked Reid about the effects of the proposed Moscow Supercenter on Pullman’s Wal-Mart. Reid was unconcerned with the proximity of the other store.
“Wal-Mart will not open a store unless they are convinced it will make money…and for a long time,” added Reid.
Lighting from the proposed store was another issue at Friday’s hearing. Testimony was presented in the first hearing round in which it was noted that prolonged exposure to light caused shrinkage in deer testicles.(*LOL* Anybody ever see that Seinfeld episode about "shrinkage"?)
Wal-Mart’s principal design engineer, Dean Logsdon, testified that lighting used by the store was specifically designed to meet the city’s lighting ordinances and to restrict “fugitive light.” Logsdon also noted that the landscaping on the site would keep light from escaping the lot.
The public comment period was more even-handed than it had been in the first hearing. Several community members expressed their support for the Supercenter, including county appraiser Jim Hawks (actually Hawkes), who estimated Wal-Mart will pay about $328,000 in property taxes. Hearings have been carried over to this morning, Jan. 26, at 10 a.m. in the Gladish Auditorium. Hearing Examiner John Montgomery will make his decisions within 30 days of the conclusions of the hearings. His decision may be appealed by either party in Whitman County Superior Court.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
"Wal-Mart saga continues"
From Thursday's Whitman County Gazette, another great article by Joe Smillie: