UPDATE - JUNE 22, 2006 12:30 PM
Other observers at the hearing have corrected some of my earlier report. The attorneys for all sides have 10 days to present their arguments to John Montgomery. Montgomery will then clarify his original Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. The matter will be heard again on October 18 at 1:30 PM in the Superior Court in Colfax. No new evidence will be introduced at that hearing.
A member of the media concluded that this was a draw, neither an outright victory or defeat for either Wal-Mart or PARD. Judge Frazier's remanding of Montgomery's decision for review should strengthen Wal-Mart's case and possibly prevent another appeal to the appellate court and yet further delay. However, a four-month delay is very frustrating and was what PARD had wanted all along.
Judge David Frazier has sent the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law back to the Hearing Examiner, John Montgomery, for amendment. Montgomery has 45 days to revise his findings, as the judge concluded that Montgomery's document did not adequately support upholding the city's SEPA and site plan approvals.
Each party will then have 10 days to file new briefs with the court based on the revised Hearing Examiner's decision.
After this, another hearing will be held in Whitman County Superior Court in which new evidence will be allowed. The judge indicated he expected the hearing to be "lengthy."
In all likelihood, with these delays, breaking ground on the new Supercenter in 2006 now seems a very dim possibility.
No two ways around it, this is a major disappointment. I hope PARD is happy. I'm sure they will be celebrating and bragging, even though this is going to cost the taxpayers tens of thousands more dollars.
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