Hood River. OR. Planners Find Wal-Mart "excessively out of proportion"
After several months of waiting, sprawl-busters in Hood River, Oregon got their first handful of good news on September 18th. when the Hood River County's Senior Planner issued a list of objections to the proposed Wal-Mart supercenter. Here are pieces of the Senior Planner's findings: "Staff concludes that the request is consistent with the criteria applicable to this
application, except for the following: 1) "Natural Resources." The proposed development is inconsistent with this standard because it causes adverse impacts upon Phelps Creek, a "significant natural feature." 2) "Grading." The applicant failed to demonstrate that the placement of approximately 60,000 cubic yards of fill within an identified floodplain will not result in causing adverse impacts on adjacent properties. 3) Section "Traffic." Insufficient information has been provided to date which ensures that the proposed development, and
associated traffic, will operate (or will be mitigated to operate) at a level of service C or better along all affected streets and intersections. 4) "Compatibility." The proposed development is not compatible with the site because its height, bulk, and scale - as seen from nearby public vantage points - dominate the surrounding landscape. Furthermore, visible portions of the building are excessively out of
proportion with other buildings found in the defined "surrounding area." 5) "Orientation" and "Parking." These standards are not met until either additional modifications are made to
the north side of the building so that it can be reasonably considered the building front (mostly by using building materials or vegetation to break up the presence of the auto service area and by relocating the truck loading dock) or otherwise modifying the access and parking areas in manner which is consistent with the purpose and intent of this standard. 6) "Floodplain Zone." information provided by the applicant was inadequate to ensure that on-site
development activities will not adversely impact adjacent properties, especially those located downstream of the tract. Furthermore, the applicant
has failed to identify the base flood elevation of the site. Without this information, staff cannot ensure that the proposed building site is at least two feet above the base flood elevation." Some of the items listed on the Planner's memo can be mitigated, but issues of bulk and scale cannot -- unless Wal-Mart substantially down-scales its project. Ironically, Wal-Mart already has a store in Hood River -- so there already is a smaller Wal-Mart in town.
What you can do: The Planning staff recommendation now goes to the Hood River County Planning Commission on September 25th. Local residents are organizing to pack the room with opponents. Wal-Mart is going to have a hard time explaining how its "excessively out of proportion" supercenter is compatible with the scale of the surrounding community. This Wal-Mart will be the last proposal of this kind, since both the county and the city have since imposed a size cap on buildings. For more background, search this database by "Hood River", and go to http://www.hoodriversfuture.org.