So, three years later... is Wal-mart opening a store because I have been waiting a while.Haven't we all?
As of now, we are waiting for a hearing date to be set by the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division III, in Spokane for the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development's frivilous, delaying tactic appeal.
Once the hearing is over, it could take two to three months for the decision to be handed down and for the building permits to be issued before ground can be broken. Construction of the store itself will take approximately 15 months. So it will be Summer 2009 at the earliest before we can start shopping at our own Wal-Mart.
If they lose at the appellate level, PARD has vowed to go the Washington Supreme Court and beyond. However, it is very unlikely that the Supreme Court would hear any such appeal. The upcoming hearing is likely the last stop in the long sordid chain of PARD appeals.
And Wal-Mart is not about to pull out. The Palouse is a market they want to penetrate. Where else would they go? The Hawkins Companies development in the corridor? No way, not with all the issues surrounding water that project is facing currently. Moscow? That concept is probably back on the table now that the City Council makeup has changed, but there still remain formidable regulatory obstacles (rezone, conditional use permit, etc.)
What can you do in the meantime? Write a letter to the editor of the Daily Evergreen or Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Don't write about PARD. Those jihadis are in it until the bitter end. There is no convincing them to quit now.
No, write to express your support of the Wal-Mart project, the millions in tax revenue the city is losing out on, and how that every day that goes by without ground being broken only encourages more opposition to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart does keep tabs on what is being said locally.
We as a community need to do everything we can to encourage Wal-Mart to get tough with PARD. Forget the stupid appeal. File for a building permit NOW and force PARD and their union lawyers to run to the Appeals Court and get an injunction. Then, Wal-Mart could ask for an appeal bond. The members of PARD would be out hundreds of thousands of dollars if they stop construction and lose the appeal. Look at Chelan. What's the worst that could happen? As long as judges in Washington are elected, there isn't one who is going to order a $20 million building that has already been constructed to be torn down and throw 400 people out of a job. In addition, let's urge Wal-Mart to ask for attorney's fees after the appeal is decided in Wal-Mart's favor. Let's see if Wal-Mart can get a lien on a few professors' houses in Pullman. The message has to be sent that it will be costly to engage in pointless delaying tactics against Wal-Mart. Otherwise, Wal-Mart will face the same scenario again in town after town after town.
UPDATE: April, as usual, provides some excellent source material.
There was a land use decision today in the Court of Appeals Division III, State of Washington. A "grassroots" neighborhood group like PARD was suing a developer and Spokane County over a hearing examiner's decision. They lost, and now they have to pay attorney's fees:
F. Attorney FeesWal-Mart and the City of Pullman prevailed at both the hearing examiner and superior court level. Doesn't look good for the PARDners. They better start holding some "fair trade" craft sales and raise some money. I wonder if their union handlers warned them that attorney fees were a strong possibility when they launched this appeal?
The applicant requests attorneys fees on appeal pursuant to RCW 4.84.370. The prevailing party on appeal of a land use decision is entitled to its attorneys fees if it also prevailed before the agency and in the superior court.
RCW 4.84.370(1); Baker v. Tri-Mountain Res., Inc., 94 Wn. App. 849, 854, 973P.2d 1078 (1999). The statute states in pertinent part:Appeal of land use decisions--Fees and costs. (1) . . .RCW 4.84.370(1).
[R]easonable attorneys' fees and costs shall be awarded to the prevailing party or substantially prevailing party on appeal before the court of appeals . . . of a decision by a county . . . to issue, condition, or deny a development permit . . . . The court shall award and determine the amount of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs under this section if:
(a) The prevailing party on appeal was the prevailing or substantially prevailing party before the county . . .; and
(b) The prevailing party on appeal was the prevailing party or substantially prevailing party in all prior judicial proceedings.
Here, the applicant prevailed before the county and in the superior court.
Therefore, subject to the provisions of RAP 18.1, we award the applicant reasonable attorneys fees on appeal.
Under the relevant LUPA standards, PNA has not met its burden of proving it is entitled to relief from the hearing examiner's decision. Accordingly, we affirm, and award attorneys fees to the applicant.
As far as this being right from the Wal-Mart hater playbook, check out what the Service Employees International Union's Wal-Mart Watch website advises:
Appealing a Pro-Wal-Mart RezoningQuod erat demonstrandum.
If you can appeal a rezoning, or a special permit decision in your state—do it. It will allow you to gain half a year to a year’s worth of delay—during which time, land deal can fall apart of expire, Wal-Mart can move on, etc. Delay always works to your benefit as a citizen’s group.
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