Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, September 29, 2006

"PARD disappointed in revised Wal-Mart ruling"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Hearing Examiner John Montgomery will revise his decision in the Wal-Mart appeal a second time to correct errors in the draft filed Sept. 20.

The decision expands Montgomery’s earlier ruling upholding the city’s approval of Wal-Mart’s site plan and environmental checklist, and denying the appeals by the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development.

“Mr. Montgomery’s decision is pretty much what we expected in terms of conclusions,” PARD spokesman T.V. Reed said in a prepared statement issued Thursday. “It is very rare for a hearing examiner to have the courage to strongly reverse himself in a remand.”

Montgomery’s revised decision received praise from Business and Residents for Economic Opportunity, a local organization that supports Wal-Mart’s plans for Pullman.

“We are very pleased that Mr. Montgomery again reached a fair and factual decision regarding the Wal-Mart Supercenter projects,” BREO co-founder Tom Forbes said in a prepared statement issued Wednesday.

PARD filed its appeals in an attempt to block Wal-Mart from building a 223,000-square-foot store on Bishop Boulevard. The group argued the store would have significant effects on traffic, the environment and the local economy.

Wal-Mart announced in October 2004 it wanted to build a super center that would include a discount department store, grocery store, pharmacy, garden center and tire shop under one roof.

At an appeal hearing in June, Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier ordered Montgomery to shore up his previous decision with additional findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Attorneys for PARD, Wal-Mart and the city of Pullman submitted draft findings and conclusions to Montgomery to help him with his task. PARD’s conclusions would have had Montgomery changing his decision to find in its favor, said Pullman City Attorney Laura McAloon.

In her opinion, Frazier’s ruling didn’t give Montgomery the option to change his earlier decision.

“It was not a remand order,” McAloon said. “It was an order to clarify and (Frazier) would then go forward with a review. He didn’t even begin the process of reviewing the decision and considering the parties’ legal arguments because there were clarifications he needed before he could begin that process.”

Although Montgomery incorporated some of the material submitted by PARD, he stuck with his earlier decision denying the group’s appeals.

Reed expressed concern the latest revision will delay the case even more.

The case is scheduled for a second appeal hearing at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 18.

The errors were mostly typographical and formatting mistakes, McAloon said. She doesn’t anticipate the Oct. 18 hearing being rescheduled.

There was one factual error McAloon noticed — in Montgomery’s conclusion, he mentioned Wal-Mart’s application had been denied by the city. The application was approved. That was the action that gave rise to PARD’s appeal.

Frazier gave the parties involved in the appeal the option to file response briefs to Montgomery’s decision if he raised any new issues that hadn’t previously been addressed.

McAloon sees no reason for the city to file a response brief, she said.

The attorney for Wal-Mart could not be reached for comment.
Of course, PARD is disappointed. They had better get used to being disapopointed. And as usual, PARD launches vicious personal attacks on anyone who doesn't agree with them. In this case, calling John Montgomery a coward.

"Reed expressed concern the latest revision will delay the case even more?" That's rich!!!! His group's appeals are what have caused all the delays, not the revisions. PARD could end the delays immeditately by dropping their frivilous appeals.

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