From today's Lewiston Tribune:
PULLMAN - The legal wrestling over construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter here appears to have ended Thursday with members of the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development abandoning their appeal options.Technorati Tags: wal-mart walmart
"This is a day for celebration in Pullman," responded a spokeswoman for the competing Businesses and Residents for Economic Opportunity group.
Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson labeled the development "a very good thing," and a Wal-Mart spokeswoman confirmed the store should be open for business no later than early 2011.
PARD's decision, announced by board member Cynthia Hosick, comes three weeks after the Washington Division III Court of Appeals denied PARD's latest effort to stop construction by upholding a lower court decision.
"The long and pointless legal delays are finally over," BREO's April Coggins wrote in a news release. "Many people have worked very hard to make this day a reality."
Hosick said PARD members voted via e-mail against pushing their case to the Washington Supreme Court. PARD spokespersons have maintained since Wal-Mart announced its plans that a majority of Pullman residents are against the company building a 228,000-square-foot store along Bishop Boulevard.
But BREO representatives point to recent polls indicating most people favor Wal-Mart's arrival and fear other retailers have delayed coming to Pullman amid the perception of an anti-business atmosphere. Coggins called for protection against a repeat. "The laws must be changed to never allow a small group, with absolutely no proof or evidence whatsoever, to subvert the will of the majority for so long," she wrote.
PARD representatives have claimed evidence about unsavory Wal-Mart business practices, coupled with unanswered questions about construction plans. Most recently, the group pointed to a traffic study that shows several million dollars' worth of maintenance and infrastructure will be needed to accommodate the big-box store.
Pullman City Attorney Laura McAloon, who confirmed after the appeals court decision Wal-Mart simply has to apply for a building permit to start the project, more recently warned the city might seek payment of legal costs if PARD continued its appeal methods. "The court rejected all their arguments," she said.
A similar effort by Wal-Mart to build a super center in Moscow was stymied more than a year ago when the company abandoned plans amid a protracted zoning dispute. Part of the property where the store was proposed, however, has now been rezoned to allow big-box stores.