Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, February 12, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Judge says Chelan Wal-Mart can remain open

From the Wenatchee World:
Wal-Mart can remain open while the city of Chelan amends plans for the store property, a judge decided today.

Dave Mann, an attorney for Defenders of Small Town Chelan, argued in court that if the building and fill-and-grade permits were illegal, then so was the occupancy permit issued Jan. 16 by the city.

The permit allowed Wal-Mart to open.

But Chelan County Superior Court Judge Lesley Allan sided with the City of Chelan.
So much for the Defenders $5 million extortion attempt.

More at GoLakeChelan.com:
It was not a good day in court for the Defenders of Small Town Chelan as Judge Lesley A. Allan listened to the petitioner and defendant positions on the Defenders "Writ of Mandamus" requesting that the Chelan Wal-Mart be closed until the City of Chelan has complied with the court order to amend its zoning codes.

After listening to both sides, Judge Allan denied the petitioners request for a Writ of Mandamus because according to her, the city "is in fact moving forward in a legally permissible manner."

Judge Allan did warn the defenders in this action. "I will reiterate… if it were to appear that the city was abandoning its efforts, I will invite the petitioner to come back to this court."

Prior to the decision, Attorney David Mann argued that the city had a mandatory duty to follow its codes. He went through the city's code language and reiterated his argument that the city was wrong in issuing building and grading permits, and without waiting for the court's outcome, the city issued an occupancy permit which he alleged was another violation of the city's code. "The city knows it's illegal and goes ahead and compounds the problem with an occupancy permit," he told Judge Allan.

City attorney Ken Harper responded to Mr. Mann's allegations and stated he didn't appreciate the accusatorial tone with which Mann addressed the issue. "He indicates that the city has somehow forgotten that it has a permit process to go through."

Harper told the court that the notion that the city thinks it can do nothing is untrue. "The City is doing something. Nothing was issued after the court's (initial) ruling and I refute the suggestion that our fingerprints are on an illegal process," said Harper. "As long as the options (to correct the zoning code) are open, the mandamus is not proper."

Harper argued that by bringing the Mandamus so closely on the heels for what the court ordered was also not right. "We are proceeding with the fastest possible dispatch."

Wal-Mart offered to provide the court with status reports to the court. "We are trying to proceed properly here," stated Mr. McCullough.

Mann finished his argument for the petitioner that the city issued an occupancy permit for an illegal building. "They are in violation of issuing an occupancy permit on January 16 for a building that is illegal. Why should Wal-Mart reap the benefits of remaining open until the City corrects its problem," he asked. "Yes we are saying the city acted poorly here."

Judge Allan didn't even recess to make her decision. She went right to the issue. She told the attorneys that the city should be given the first opportunity to correct its code. "The city is not at liberty to ignore an invalid building permit," she said. "The city is moving forward in a legally permissible manner." She denied the request for a Writ of Mandamus allowing Wal-Mart to remain open and the city to continue with its problem of correcting the zoning codes and the fact that it issued an illegal building permit.
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Dr Nathan L Scott said...

The issue is not so much Wal-Mart, but is more about the city's 'mis-interpretation' of its own land use code.

If we could all get the 'lucky breaks' Wal-Mart got from the City of Chelan!

Tom Forbes said...

Sure, I could only hope to get so lucky that a group of radicals try to extort over $5 million out of me while I desperately try to keep my $20 million investment from the wrecking ball.

With luck like that, who needs enemies?