In an update to a story we brought you on March 8, 2007, ABC News reports that Wal-Mart may crash and burn this evening in Concord, California, when the City Council makes a routine certification vote to reject the retailer’s final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. The so-called Jones Ranch Project included a Wal-Mat superstore and other retailers. But last month, the City Council voted 3-2 to reject the EIR on the grounds that the report did not address transportation and circulation, parking, public safety, solid waste generation, storm water and urban decay. The Mayor of Concord, Mark Peterson, voted for Wal-Mart, but he was outnumbered by 3 councilors against the plan. Since their March vote, the city’s planning staff have prepared a resolution with findings of fact to support a rejection of the EIR, recommending the Council vote formally to deny the project. The huge layout included a Lowe’s home improvement store as well as the Wal-Mart, plus a fast food restaurant, all crammed onto 28 acres of land in an industrial area on the north side of town. The project has shattered any concord in Concord. Opponents have argued that crime will rise, as well as pollution and traffic, and smaller business will be displaced. A citizens group, No More on 4, has been fighting the project. The group said today that the developer, Winton Jones Development, wants to delay the final vote, hoping it can turn one Councilor’s vote around.
When Wal-Mart came up for its vote last month, Concord Councilwoman Helen Allen said at the hearing: “I don’t want to slam Wal-Mart, but we’ve worked very hard to improve the image of the city. I don’t want people to think ‘Wal-Mart’ when they think of Concord,” she said. Mayor Mark Peterson was quoted as saying, “Does Wal-Mart do things we don’t like? Yeah, sure, but so do stockbrokers. So do a lot of companies, but I’m not supposed to be making the decision here tonight on a social basis. This is a land-use decision.” The Mayor apparently thinks traffic and community character are not zoning issues. At least he admitted Wal-Mart does things he doesn’t like. Let’s hope the Mayor doesn’t try to zone out stockbrokers from his city. It doesn’t look like Wal-Mart is going to get Back to the Ranch this time.