On April 7th the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals backed an earlier ruling by the city of Hillsboro, Oregon denying an appeal by Wal-Mart to build a superstore in this community. The decision effectively shuts down Wal-Mart’s year and a half effort to get into Hillsboro. The company could take the case to the Court of Appeals, but it takes more wasted time and money to do that. “This is not a victory for us over Wal-Mart. It’s a victory (for) good planning,” Hillsboro Mayor Tom Hughes was quoted as saying in the Oregonian. “This will be an important tool for us to move forward and make decisions on planning the city.” A Wal-Mart spokesperson said the company was disappointed with the ruling, but then disappointment is something Wal-Mart is having to get used to. The LUBA said that the giant retailer failed to produce a traffic report that realistically demonstrated the impact of a 210,155 s.f. supercenter on the residential neighborhood near the site. The board said Wal-Mart’s traffic study area was too small, and should have covered an area within one mile of the project. The Board also faulted Wal-Mart for not fully exploring ways of protecting two groves of sequoia trees at the site. The Board even hassled Wal-Mart over the lack of windows on one side face of the building, and the location of loading dock too close to pedestrians, according to the newspaper. The LUBA decision follows the unanimous rejection of the plan eight months ago by the Hillsboro City Council. The city charged that this scale of a store simply could not be made compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, and that the proposal was incompatible with the city’s vision for that part of the city. Wal-Mart had planned to build its store in two phases, adding a grocery store during phase two. The store itself would have been the size of five football fields. Wal-Mart tried to argue that the city has misinterpreted its own zoning code, but the Board did not agree. The city’s lawyer described Wal-Mart as “super inflexible.” “They tweaked the paint and a few other things, but otherwise everything else was carved in stone along with their corporate model,” said Daniel Kearns. The Mayor of Hillsboro said any other similar project would have been rejected. “I don’t have strong feelings about Wal-Mart one way or the other,” the Mayor said. “If the same design would have been proposed by another store, it would have still been denied.”
Several Oregon communities in the last few months have disappointed Wal-Mart. For more background on those stories, search Newsflash by “Oregon”.