The Summer Evergreen has been doing a great job so far, with two very balanced stories, including this one from yesterday:
Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier determined Thursday that the decision on the proposed Wal-Mart in Pullman needs to be more thorough.Technorati Tags: wal-mart walmart
The decision will go back to the hearing examiner, who will reconsider the evidence and conclusions from the previous decision. Frazier’s determination came from an appeal of a hearing examiner’s initial decision made in February.
Frazier determined some issues such as pedestrian traffic need to be addressed, and other parts of the decision needed to be more thoroughly explained, Pullman City Attorney Laura McAloon said. The hearing is scheduled for Oct. 18.
The decision was written by the hearing examiner, Spokane attorney John Montgomery, after listening to numerous testimonies and reviewing documents. Frazier determined the facts and laws were not thoroughly explained in the February decision, McAloon said.
In some areas Frazier wanted more elaboration on the thought processes behind conclusions, she said.
“I think it was a very reasonable step on his part,” McAloon said.
Four groups have been involved throughout the process of Wal-Mart trying to get approval to build in Pullman. Wal-Mart, Businesses and Residents for Economic Opportunity and the City of Pullman are all in favor of a Wal-Mart being built, while Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development is an organization formed in opposition of the plan.
All of the groups said they saw potential benefits from the judges decision, but PARD views the decision differently than the rest.
“We think this makes it clear that Judge Frazier understands we have a substantive case that needs serious discussion,” said T.V. Reed, the legal liaison for PARD.
Reed said the hearing examiner did not address a number of issues put forth by PARD in their testimony, including some potential traffic problems.
Judge Frazier mentioned the scope of the traffic impact analysis and whether or not it was sufficient, McAloon said.
“It’s not about being for or against development, its about having a choice in how the town develops,” Reed said.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jennifer Holder saw the decision differently. She said Wal-Mart has been satisfied with the court decisions thus far.
“We see it as a judge doing a great job to see that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed,” Holder said.
She said it is not unusual for this type of thing to happen, and Wal-Mart is confident they will be able to open a store in Pullman.
Tom Forbes, co-founder of BREO, said in the long run the decision will be good because the hearing examiner’s position will be stronger and easier to defend. He said while BREO was disappointed a decision was not reached, they think it is important the judge gets all the information he needs.
“I think the people of Pullman want closure,” Forbes said.
Forbes said an estimated 49 cents of every dollar spent by Pullman residents is spent outside of the city, and BREO hopes bringing a Wal-Mart will reduce that number.
Reed said PARD put forth large amounts of evidence about the national, regional
and local trends likely to occur if a Wal-Mart is built in Pullman.
“It is very likely that local businesses would suffer,” he said.
No new information will be presented to the hearing examiner when he reviews his position, however Wal-Mart and PARD will be able to provide guidance to the examiner to determine key issues.
McAloon said the city has not determined whether or not they will submit their own draft.
“This continuing debate has really divided the city,” Forbes said.