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HILLSBORO, Ore. - Determined to build its first store in Oregon's Washington County, Wal-Mart is taking its case to the state's Court of Appeals, according to the Oregonian. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant's decision is the latest development in an 18-month battle over traffic, design, and location of the proposed store.
The company's intentions have been stymied by unanimous rejections from Hillsboro's planning commission and the City Council, as well as a denial from the state Land Use Board of Appeals earlier this month. Citing its "commitment to customers," however, Wal-Mart has kept up the fight to build the store, maintaining that the city lacked the legal authority to deny the proposal.
The Court of Appeals is expected to convene a public hearing on the proposal in June and will hand down a decision no later than September. If the court rejects Wal-Mart's appeal, the retailer could then go to the Oregon Supreme Court.
"We satisfied all the city requirements, and we're prepared to mitigate all the impacts created by the project," Wal-Mart's attorney, Greg Hathaway, told the Oregonian. "We still believe, based on the law and the facts, this project should have been approved. We have a legitimate position."
According to city officials, they didn't know about Wal-Mart's appeal yesterday afternoon, but the city remains confident in its decision to deny the proposal. Councilors rejected the store because they had concerns about the amount of traffic it would cause, and believed it wasn't incongruous with the surrounding residential neighborhood.
"The council feels very secure in the decision it made last summer, when it denied Wal-Mart's appeal," city spokeswoman Barbara Simon told the Oregonian. "The fact that they're raising a lot of the same issues they raised with (the land-use board) doesn't change our decision. We still think we're on firm ground."
Wal-Mart has not yet decided whether it will alter the store plan and submit a second application, said company spokesman Eric Berger. Company representatives met with city and county officials Monday to discuss traffic requirements and development changes that have occurred at the site since the submission of Wal-Mart's first proposal.
Plans originally stipulated a 142,865-square-foot discount store with a garden center, a restaurant, and a tire center, on a 26-acre site. The first phase would have featured 817 parking spaces, with a second phase adding a grocery, bringing the building to 210,155 square feet, and 274 additional parking spaces.
After the city's rejection in August, Wal-Mart appealed to the state land-use board, making the argument that the proposed store location was perfect for "high-density, auto-oriented" use but that the city misinterpreted its zoning code and rejected the plan because of the store's large size and design.
Three weeks ago, citing design and traffic issues, the board upheld the city's decision.