Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Wait for Wal-Mart May Have Just Gotten a Bit Longer

I think (most) everyone in Pullman realizes that the decision to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter will ultimately be a business and legal decision. Individual preferences and desires, both for or against, are of little actual consequence.

Business decisions, especially by a major corporation, are not made in a vacuum. That is why this news is disturbing for those of us who support the economic growth a Supercenter would bring to Pullman:
Judge tosses Wal-Mart building permit in Chelan

Associated Press

CHELAN, Wash. - Less than a month before Chelan's new Super Wal-Mart is scheduled to open, a Chelan County Superior Court judge has thrown out the city-issued building permit for the megastore.

Defenders of Small Town Chelan provided a written copy of an order signed by Judge Lesley Allan on Friday.

Wal-Mart opponents tell The Wenatchee World newspaper that they will likely ask the judge to order that the 162,000-square-foot store be torn down.

Defenders of Small Town Chelan sued in May to challenge the building permit.
Wal-Mart has started hiring employees and stocking shelves in preparation for an opening on Jan. 22.

In the written ruling dated Friday, the judge wrote that the city did not follow its own land-use rules in granting the building permit and another permit for grading and excavation on the site about a half mile northeast of Chelan off Highway 97A.
The excavation permit was issued on April 20. The building permit was issued on May 1.
I certainly don't expect a judge to order a $20 million building to be town down. This is just a legal speed bump. And the issues in Chelan are totally different than the issues in Pullman.

However, make no mistake, Wal-Mart will probably proceed more cautiously in Pullman as result of what has happened in Chelan. I don't think we will see Wal-Mart aggressively pursuing a building permit during the appeal process, at least not in the short term. When you are reponsible to millions of shareholders, you tend to be somewhat cautious and risk averse. We may have to wait out the latest appeal and a Supreme Court rejection, if necessary, before the project moves forward. That could be a couple of more years. It's incredibly frustrating that a small group has been given this much power. But Wal-Mart is in for the long haul. As proof of this, they have revived plans for a Supercenter up in Hayden after three years of inactivity. The store was originally proposed there in 2002. It's all just a war of attrition.

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1 comment:

Sarcastic Housewife #1 said...

I was very sad when I saw this on the news. It is disturbing that such small groups of people can keep progress down.