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2005-09-12
Oregon City, OR. Land Use Board Says Wal-Mart Needed More Time To Respond

A Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) in Oregon has ruled that Oregon City did not give Wal-Mart enough time to rebut some of the evidence presented against it. The ruling came on an appeal by Wal-Mart of a rejection by the Oregon City Commissioners, but it is only an interim decision, because city officials have already voted to appeal the case to the Oregon Court of Appeals. According to the Oregonian newspaper, the Wal-Mart appeal was based on the technical process itself. The retailer claimed that the city took in new evidence about traffic, after the 14 day public comment period was over, but did not give the corporation time to respond to the new evidence. The LUBA ruled that, "At the end of the 14-day comment period, the local government must render its decision without accepting or considering new evidence. . . . The city clearly did not follow this procedure." If new evidence is accepted, all parties get another 14 days to comment, the board said. But one Oregon City official wondered, "If the process keeps going on and on, I don't know how you'd ever make a decision?" Wal-Mart has been trying for three years to build a store in Oregon City, so opponents have already scored a major victory against the retailer, since the normal process should only take a few months time. The owner of the property in question told the Oregonian the LUBA decision was "a pretty good whack across the head" for Oregon City, and Wal-Mart boasted that the ruling would "put us in a position to get a store approved and built in Oregon City." But the reality is that the LUBA decision will be appealed by the city, many months will pass by, and no Wal-Mart store will be constructed.

What you can do: Even if the case gets remanded back to Oregon City officials, the LUBA ruling does not necessarily invalidate any of the conclusions of law that city officials determined. If the city gives Wal-Mart time to respond to traffic issues, those issues may not dissolve away, and the city could again rule that the project should be denied. In fact, the LUBA decision could mean that these cases could drag out over longer time frames -- exactly what most developers, including Wal-Mart, don't want to see happen. So Wal-Mart win the battle, but lose the war in Oregon City. For stories about Oregon City's rejection of Wal-Mart, search this database by "Oregon City."










 
 
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