By DAVID JOHNSONAccording to the Whitman County Clerk, the appeal will be heard approximately two weeks after Wal-Mart files their response to PARD's appeal
of the Tribune
PULLMAN -- Members of a group opposed to a Wal-Mart Supercenter here will appeal a hearing examiner's decision that had reopened the door to construction of the big-box store on Bishop Boulevard, a spokesman told the Lewiston Tribune Wednesday.
Christopher Lupke, who represents the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD), said the appeal will be filed no later than Monday in Whitman County Superior Court at Colfax.
Lupke said the appeal will not only question the adequacy of traffic mitigations ordered by the examiner, but also a failure to order an independent study of the economic impact the super center would have on city infrastructure and services, as well as the entire Pullman retail community.
Lupke said the need to file such an appeal underscores Pullman's lack of ordinances governing big-box development, as well as the city's failure to provide an early forum for public input.
"They have no way of discussing the issue," Lupke said, until a proposal like Wal-Mart's reaches a point where it can be appealed.
"Pullman deserves a more open process that allows for the public to have a voice in such major decisions early in the process," Lupke wrote in a news release that accompanied his announcement. "The whole Wal-Mart controversy in Pullman has illustrated how closed the political decision-making process is in Pullman and how so much power is concentrated in the hands of so few people."
The new appeal will be filed under the Washington State Land Use Petition Act, said Lupke, adding that the decision came after much discussion among members of PARD. Lupke said members appreciated the hearing examiner's order for certain traffic mitigations, but they weren't enough. He said a Wal-Mart Supercenter would have significant traffic impacts, not only on Bishop Boulevard, but also Grand Avenue, Spring Street and other streets in the area that are already experiencing traffic stresses.
Lupke said results of a retail economic study submitted by Wal-Mart during earlier appeal hearings amounted to a "skewed" analysis. That study contended that Wal-Mart planned to tap into retail sales losses, or "leakage," to other communities, and that Wal-Mart wouldn't compete with the vast majority of downtown businesses.
"PARD is once again calling for an independent fiscal impact study, a study that has never been done in the wake of the Wal-Mart onslaught," the news release reads.
City officials have said that fiscal studies, by law, pertain only to the impact a super center would have on city infrastructure and services, not the retail sector.
"We need both," said Lupke.
Announcement of the pending appeal comes at a time when Wal-Mart's efforts to build a second super center in neighboring Moscow continue to come under fire. That proposal stalled last week when members of the Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission denied a request for a zone change that could allow for construction of a super center.
Whitman County officials, meanwhile, have initially cleared the way for possible construction of a new shopping center adjacent to Moscow on the border between Idaho and Washington. A Lowe's home improvement center, two additional big-box stores and eight smaller retail outlets would anchor the center, according to conceptual plans. Appeals on that project must be filed with the Whitman County Commission by Friday.
This is going to be a joke and a huge waste of time and money. Judge Frazier can only look at the existing record and decide whether or not John Montgomery's decision was arbitrary and capricious. The appeal CANNOT be de novo and introduce new issues.
PARD obviously is just using this futile appeal as a bully pulpit to address "how closed the political decision-making process is in Pullman and how so much power is concentrated in the hands of so few people." What they fail to realize is that they had their chance to change city government last fall and they were overwhelmingly rejected. Dragging this issue out further is only going to turn even more people against them.
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