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2005-04-26
American Canyon, CA. Citizens Ask Courts To Stop Wal-Mart Construction

Apparently a lawsuit against a Wal-Mart supercenter in American Canyon, California was not enough to halt work on the proposed project. City officials gave Wal-Mart a "preliminary" construction permit, even though the case is now in the courts. The citizens group, American Canyon United for Responsible Growth, has been forced by the city action to file a second court action, this one asking for an emergency stay on permits issued earlier in April. The city permits allow Wal-Mart to grade the land, begin electrical work, and construct a sign. The citizens asked that all this work cease immediately until their original lawsuit is settled. A Superior Court judge in Napa will hear the emergench stay case on April 28th. The plaintiffs have pointed out that in a court ruling several months ago in Bakersfield, California, a judge ordered construction halted on several big box projects, including a Wal-Mart supercenter, because of procedural errors by the city. American Canyon officials obviously hope that by giving Wal-Mart preliminary permits, that even if the citizens win in court, the work would already be underway, leading the courts to let the final work continue. This is what happened in Decorah, Iowa, where Wal-Mart illegally filled a floodplain and built a store, and was allowed to keep the store open despite the ruling by a court that the action was illegal. The city excused its actions by telling the Times-Herald newspaper that if they did not give Wal-Mart the permits, the developer would have sued them. Apparently city officials were not concerned if their own citizens sued them. The supercenter will be 190,000 s.f. and includes a hotel, restaurants and apartment complex. The original lawsuit charges that the city did not do a proper environmental impact report as required under the California Environmental Quality Act. A second citizen's group, called Citizens Against Poor Planning has also filed a lawsuit raising similar charges. A court hearing on both lawsuits is not expected until July. "We want the developer to follow the rules the city has put down," said once activist. "In Bakersfield, you have a building that is half built and an eyesore. We don't want to have that happen in American Canyon."

What you can do: For more background on this story, search the Newsflash page by "American Canyon" and "Bakersfield."










 
 
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