Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"PARD ends legal fight against Wal-Mart; Group won't appeal most recent court ruling to Washington Supreme Court"

The headline I've waited three years to post. What a nice 3rd Blogiversary present TV Reed and Co. gave us.

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development will not continue its legal quest to block the construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman.

PARD board member Cynthia Hosick said the group's members voted via e-mail whether to take their case to the Washington Supreme Court.

"I think the decision to stop is reasonable, because ... I think it probably wouldn't go too much farther," Hosick said.

PARD members point to a city-commissioned Bishop Boulevard traffic study that determined several million dollars of maintenance and infrastructure will be needed in the future to deal with issues such as traffic and pedestrian safety.

Hosick said the March release of the study was too late to help PARD in its appeal. She's certain the group would have been victorious if it had been able to present the information in court.

"We weren't able to have the traffic study be part of the appeal and that's a biggie," she said. "I think without that (another) appeal would be very iffy."

Jennifer Spall, Washington Wal-Mart public affairs manager, said PARD members made the right decision to back down. She added that the corporation was going to move forward with construction regardless of whether PARD chose to appeal. The store is being designed, although no permits have been issued by the city. The super center is expected to open in late 2010 or early 2011.

"It's probably a wise decision on their part. The chance of being heard by the Supreme Court is slim," she said. "But we had decided to move forward whether they did (appeal) or not ... As far as we were concerned, with the court of appeals, we were done. It's great for the community that they won't have to go through this again."

Mayor Glenn Johnson was pleased to hear that Wal-Mart will proceed with construction. He said PARD's fight against the super center has delayed development of other stores in Pullman, as well as the collection of sales tax and the addition of several traffic lights Wal-Mart will pay to have installed on Bishop Boulevard.

"From a city standpoint, this is a very good thing," he said.

Wal-Mart announced plans to build a super center on Bishop Boulevard in October 2004. The project's State Environmental Policy Act checklist was given a determination of nonsignificance by Pullman Public Works Director Mark Workman, meaning the city believes the project should not have an adverse effect on the environment.

PARD appealed the store's SEPA checklist and site plan on the grounds that the store would negatively affect stormwater run-off, traffic and Pullman's local economy.

A Pullman hearing examiner concluded the store's site plan and environmental checklist was sufficient and the decision was upheld by Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier, who dismissed PARD's appeal.

The group then took the case to the Division III Court of Appeals, which deliberated for more than five months before denying PARD's appeal earlier this month.
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