PULLMAN - Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier has denied an appeal by a citizen group trying to stop a Wal-Mart superstore from locating in Pullman.Technorati Tags: wal-mart walmart
Frazier Wednesday afternoon turned down the request by the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD), which had appealed a hearing examiner's decision to allow the store's construction.
The project is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, but the citizen group says it will hurt existing businesses and add to traffic congestion.
PARD can appeal Frazier's decision.
Wal-Mart Senior Public Affairs Manager for Washington, Jennifer Holder, said the company is very happy with Frazier's decision. She said the ruling was "very thoughtful and well-laid out."
Holder said if PARD does not file an additional appeal within 30 days after the court certifies the decision, it will be full speed ahead for the construction of a Supercenter in Pullman. She said it should take about 15 months before the doors would open.
Holder said no one has ever appealed a case to the extent this one has been appealed.
In a news release, PARD said "all Frazier can do in his role as appellate judge in this case is affirm or deny that the Hearing Examiner made a reasonable case. Therefore, Frazier said he felt he had to rule on behalf of Wal-Mart. Going out of his way to say that there was 'no indication that PARD's case was frivolous or without merit', he nonetheless had to rule as his did within the narrow bounds of his judicial power in this instance."
PARD legal liaison T.V. Reed referred to the judge's "seeming reluctance" in making his ruling.
"Frazier clearly indicated that there are substantial unresolved issues of fiscal impact and traffic safety, but that he could not rule on those issues," Reed said. "What he is saying in effect, is that under current Pullman law those issues need not be addressed. PARD disagrees with the Hearing Examiner, and by extension Judge Frazier in their narrow interpretation of city and state codes. But the larger issue is clear: Pullman's laws do not give citizen's real choice about the nature and degree of development."
"The difference between Moscow and Pullman is made crystal clear by this decision," said PARD member Judy Krueger. "Moscow has laws that allow it to make choices about development, while Pullman is essentially wide open to any developer who wants to come in. It is not about whether you are for or against this specific Wal-Mart project. It is whether or not you believe citizens should have the power to shape their city's growth."
Reed said that the decision on whether or not to appeal the decision to the next level, Division III appellate court in Spokane, would be for the entire PARD membership to consider. He said they will meet Thursday night to discuss it with their lawyers.
Meanwhile, Businesses & Residents for Economic Opportunity (BREO) co-founder Tom Forbes said "We hope that PARD decides to end their appeals now. Over the last two years, this process has divided residents, distracted city government, and cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. The Pullman community wants closure. We ask PARD to now join us in moving forward to heal the rifts that have formed and working together to make Pullman a better place in which to live and do business."
BREO supports the new Supercenter and according to their web site, also supports "free enterprise, business growth, and healthy competition in the city of Pullman and Whitman County, Washington."
Thursday, October 19, 2006
"Judge Gives Go-Ahead To Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter"
KLEW TV story on Pullman's victory: