Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"PARD’s appeal of Wal-Mart proposal denied"

Like Laura McAloon, I'm also betting PARD will appeal.

From today's Summer Evergreen (the first Wal-Mart story in the Evergreen in about a year):
The Washington State Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled Wal-Mart will be able to build a Supercenter in Pullman, possibly ending a three year fight against the corporation.

“We’re very pleased with the decision, which was lengthy but well-reasoned,” Pullman City Attorney Laura McAloon said. “It addressed all the complaints brought by PARD and found in favor of the city on all of them.” The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development filed the appeal against S&W Land Company (responsible for purchasing the land for Wal-Mart) in 2006. The City of Pullman and CLC Associates of Spokane Valley were named as respondents.

Most of the assertions made in PARD’s appeal placed the burden of proof on them and the court ruled the group did not meet the burden. In the decision, the court wrote “a recurring theme” in PARD’s appeal alleged the examiner of the group’s administrative review failed to accurately portray aspects of the Wal-Mart proposal.

“Here, we consider the examiner’s findings of fact and conclusions of law to be adequate for review, and reject PARD’s claims to the contrary,” the decision stated.

PARD has 30 days to file a motion for reconsideration before the decision becomes final. After that time, they can file a petition for discretionary review with the Washington Supreme Court.

McAloon said she expects PARD to continue appealing.

“If I were a gambler I’d lay odds on that, but I don’t know,” she said. “(But) this makes the third time that a judicial body has ruled against them.” The decision is only the latest in a lengthy court battle stretching back to 2005. After their original appeal to a special hearing examiner was appealed, PARD filed an appeal with Whitman County Superior Court. Judge David Frazier denied that appeal in October 2006, noting that although PARD raised legitimate concerns, the court’s role was only to determine whether the hearing examiner made legal errors. PARD appealed to the Court of Appeals – which has to hear all appeals – in November of that year.

Tom Forbes, co-founder of Business and Residents for Economic Opportunity, a group formed to in October 2005 to oppose PARD, issued a release applauding the court’s decision.

“Today is a great day to be a resident of Pullman,” he wrote. “Further pointless and baseless legal maneuvers by PARD to delay the inevitable will only cost city taxpayers tens of thousands of more dollars and exacerbate divisions within the community.” McAloon expressed a desire for the city to be able to focus on other things.

“I’m hopeful we can put this behind the city and the city can move forward and proceed forward at this point,” she said.

Members of PARD could not be reached for comment after multiple attempts Wednesday afternoon.
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