Add another major “slam-dunk” to the Wal-Mart list of rejections. Residents in Hillsboro, Oregon are celebrating a super victory this week against a Wal-Mart supercenter. The Hillsboro City Council made it unanimous with a 6-0 vote against a proposed Wal-Mart supercenter in an area of the city zoned for neighborhood retail. The same project had already been rejected by the Hillsboro Planning Commision on May 14th. by a 3-0 tally. The Commission rejected the store, in part, based on its inappropriate size, and lack of compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood. The Council held two evenings of public hearings regarding the proposed 210,155 s.f.plan. “There’s no way to mitigate away that size of a store on that property,” Councilor Doug Johnson told the Hillsboro Argus newspaper. Six people spoke in favor of the superstore, while 38 people opposed it. One of the major issues was traffic. “I’m not against Wal-Mart, I’m against a Wal-Mart supercenter at the corner of two overburdened roads,” said one resident. Wal-Mart argued, as they often do, that they had met all the zoning requirements. But the City Council noted that the company’s traffic estimates were based on a community of 55,000 people, but Hillsboro has at least 72,000 residents and a much larger trade area. Wal-Mart apparently refused to scale back the size of the store. “They tried to pass off this huge store as a neighborhood store, serving a 5 miles radius,” one resident told Sprawl-Busters. Local opponents say that Wal-Mart may now appeal the City Council decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals. Residents said on their website, trafficnightmare.com, “We are greatly encouraged by Mayor Tom Hughes’ comment that for a Wal-Mart to be on this property, they would need to break the massive super-box structure up into small, boutique-like stores, each with their own patio and meeting area for the community, and to be scattered about the property…” Residents say “A Wal-Mart of ANY SIZE is not appropriate for this property…(big box) retailers do not belong in the middle of a residential neighborhood.” They said the Wal-Mart plan was inharmonious with the city’s 2020 Vision plan for mixed use zoning in this area. Last May, when the Planning Commission turned them down, Wal-Mart complained that they had no other alternative site in Hillsboro on their list. Having lost several votes unanimously, some residents are wondering if Wal-Mart can read the writing on the Hillsboro wal.
For more background on the Hillsboro victory, search this Newsflash page by the city’s name. For more direct contact with residents who beat this project, go to www.trafficnightmare.com.