Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Door opens for Wal-Mart in Pullman"

From today's Lewiston Tribune:

Retailer now may apply for building permit; decision subject to mitigating traffic conditions, presence of graves

Barring a court appeal within 21 days, the door appears to have been thrown back open I don't ever recall the door being shut for Wal-Mart to build a 223,000-square-foot super center here on 28 acres adjacent to Bishop Boulevard.

Hearing Examiner John Montgomery of Spokane made his decision known late Friday afternoon to uphold the City of Pullman's site plan and determination of non-significance regarding Wal-Mart's application to build.

Montgomery's decision is subject to some mitigating traffic conditions and possible suspension of construction if human graves are found on the site. The property abuts the Pullman Cemetery on the south side.

Pullman City Attorney Laura McAloon told the Lewiston Tribune that the decision basically affirms the city's handling of the Wal-Mart application and that the world's largest retailer may now apply for a building permit.

"The only way they (opponents) could stop them from going toward construction is if they went to court and applied for an injunction," McAloon said, adding that the city intends to work with Wal-Mart to meet all conditions Montgomery has ordered.

T.V. Reed, spokesman for the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD), said he had just received word of the decision and members of the grassroots make that union puppet group will have to review it in detail before settling on a course of action, if any.

Reed said he was heartened by Montgomery's decision to address better traffic signals at intersections along Bishop Boulevard. Better traffic signals? What the hell is he talking about?

"Safety for the public has always been our concern," Reed said. Yeah, right. Judging from the letters to the editor lately, I thought independent economic impact studies had always been their concern. In a disaster like this for PARD, they have to find some shred of respect from the ruling I suppose

Seattle attorney John C. McCullough, who represented Wal-Mart during public hearings on PARD's appeal, could not be reached for comment. Likewise, Spokane attorney Brian T. McGinn, who represents PARD, could not be reached for comment. Oh but don't bother trying to contact any Pullman Wal-Mart supporters for comment.

A message on PARD's Web site announced that a decision had been made, but said comment wouldn't be available until a later time.

The development comes while officials across the border in Moscow are dealing with Wal-Mart's announced intentions to build an additional super center of similar size there. Moscow currently has a Wal-Mart store on the west end of town.

After hearing some four hours of testimony, mostly from people opposed to a Wal-Mart Supercenter, the Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to deliberate March 8 and possibly make a pivotal zoning decision.

The Gene Thompson family has applied to have 77 acres of farm land re-zoned to motor business, which could open the door to the super center and possibly other big box stores.

Unlike Moscow, which has a big-box store ordinance that could constrain Wal-Mart construction plans, Pullman has no such legal tool. McCullough, however, has said Wal-Mart officials intend to work with the community and want to become a good neighbor. Why have four paragraphs about Moscow in a story about the Pullman Wal-Mart? Hasn't the Moscow Supercenter brouhaha had enough coverage of its own?

Opponents in both towns have said that Wal-Mart Supercenters will change the character of their communities and lead to more urban sprawl. Opponents have also contended that super centers will have heavy impacts on downtown business in both communities. Oh yes, make it seem like this decison was rammed down our throats. There's only a couple of dozen diehards left that feel that way. Does he know how much joy there is in Pullman now over this decision?

"No credible testimony was presented OUCH!! that urban blight would befall the city's downtown area as result of the proposal," Montgomery wrote in his decision about Pullman.

"Wal-Mart has mitigated impacts of its proposal on the Pullman Cemetery," Montgomery wrote. "In event that human remains are disturbed, the applicant's construction effort will be abated in that area for a governmental determination of a course of action."
All in all, another frustrating article that does not reflect the whole story.


WSUStretch said...

Tom et al,

Unfortunately, reporting accurately, fairly and balanced has not occured in the media for decades. Reporting the FACTS would not sell papers, would not reduce the hype and the "story" would go away. What would happen with no story? They would have to find something else to write about - and that takes work. It far easier to make up things to drag out something that was dead long ago. And as we've clearly seen, the media has no desire or energy to call out the inaccuracies of PARDs comments, or the flip/flopping they've done in trying to save face or have any hope of continuing their "movement".

Truth is prevailing, the facts are standing up in their own right. Planning works and Pullman does have a future. Yes, we now have to wait out these next 21 days, but Wal Mart can start the permit process etc (which I'm sure they have ready to go in a folder to be turned in on Monday).

The key is to stay aware, but continue spreading the positive steps that we're seeing in Pullman and continue to talk about Pullman's future - that it involves PLANNED growth and recognizes the need to balance economic development, neighborhoods and amenities. That's what we set in place 20 years ago. Let the naysayers of doom preach to their own choir. We don't have to come to their concert and clearly the vast majority of Pullman residents don't want to go either.

In the spirit of a SUSTAINABLE Pullman. Our future is bright.

April E. Coggins said...

Our future IS bright! We need to go forward and welcome new people who are willing to invest in Pullman's future. Growth is never easy but we need to welcome it and grow with it.

WSUStretch said...

Exactly, April! I'm excited for your business as well.

Growth requires stretching, as that takes work. To stay the same takes no effort and our society is too much a reflection of that.

It's time to all pull together to make Pullman the best it can be for the growth that IS happening and will continue to happen.