Judge turns down request to force store opponents to pay for city attorney’s hearing preparationsThe Defenders plan to appeal? My God, what is wrong with these people??? The judge has refused TWICE now to close the store. As long as judges are elected in the state of Washington, no one is going to throw 200 people out of a job.
Chelan’s Wal-Mart store can remain open while it works with the city to change city zoning, a Chelan County Superior Court judge decided Monday.
Judge Lesley Allan said the city is taking legal steps to decide what to do about a 162,000-square-foot store in an area where only 50,000-square-foot buildings are allowed.
“The court did not make a decision about what kind of enforcement was required,” Allan said at a Monday hearing. “The court was not going to close down the store without giving the city a chance to respond to the situation.”
In her Jan. 18 ruling, Allan let the city decide whether Wal-Mart should be allowed to open without legal permitting.
The store opened Jan. 22 and the city and Wal-Mart are collaborating on the zoning amendment plan.
Mayor Jay Witherbee said he expects Wal-Mart to submit a complete application in the next two weeks to amend the zoning.
After that, the city will accept public comment about the application, Witherbee said.
The Chelan City Council will vote whether to grant the amendment in a closed-record decision, which means public testimony will not be taken at the meeting.
Dave Mann, an attorney for Defenders of Small Town Chelan, argued in court Monday the city violated city code by issuing an occupancy permit for an illegal building.
Allan sided with the city. She said the occupancy permit was legal because the building followed the International Building Code standards for safety.
“I’m extremely frustrated,” Mann said after the ruling. “It (Wal-Mart’s opening) corrupts the legislative process that’s going to happen. It’s going to be really hard for City Council to say ‘Now close the doors’ after six months.”
Mann said he expects Defenders of Small Town Chelan will appeal Monday’s decision.
The city of Chelan submitted an appeal last week to Allan’s Jan. 16 ruling that the store’s permits were illegal.
The city of Chelan asked the judge to order the Defenders of Small Town Chelan to pay the city’s attorney fees for the work preparing for Monday’s hearing.
The judge denied the request in her ruling Monday.
“The taxpayers are picking up the tab; this is an ongoing waste of tax dollars,” Witherbee said.
Witherbee said he’s not sure how much money the Wal-Mart case will cost the city, but he expects to propose a budget amendment later this year.
Making Wal-Mart legal
1. Wal-Mart applies to amend the planned development district, a kind of special zoning. Chelan Mayor Jay Witherbee said he expects Wal-Mart to submit a complete application in the next two weeks.
2. The city will publish public notices and notify state agencies of the proposed amendment. The public and state agencies can submit written comments or give verbal comments at Chelan City Hall.
3. Wal-Mart will conduct studies analyzing traffic and environmental impacts.
4. A hearing examiner will take public testimony and make a recommendation to Chelan City Council whether Wal-Mart’s amendment request should be granted.
5. Chelan City Council will vote whether to grant the amendment in a closed-record decision, which means public testimony will not be taken at the meeting.
Source: Chelan Mayor Jay Witherbee
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