Wal-Mart continues its saturation plans for the state of Oregon by forwarding a new plan to build a 149,000 s.f. store in Beaverton. A group called Save Cedar Mill has formed, and several members from the group have contacted Sprawl-Busters. According to The Oregonian, the Wal-Mart plan calls for the store to sit on top of a ground floor of parking, with about one-third of the parking spaces in a conventional parking lot. Save Cedar Mill has wasted no time in getting organized, circulating a petition, and setting up an anti-Wal-Mart website. The development site itself is quite small, only 9.3 acres, which is why Wal-Mart is proposing a two-tiered store/parking arrangement. The site plan also includes a free-standing retailer almost 10,000 s.f. in size, plus an office building. That’s a lot of uses to squeeze onto this small land area. Wal-Mart has also altered its typical big box design in favor of more brick-and-glass, apparently to blend in with other properties developed by the landowner who will lease the parcel to Wal-Mart. But design changes to the exterior do not change the environmental and scale impacts of a store that will be around three times the size of a football field. Facade changes are like putting a tuxedo on Frankenstein. It’s still a monster. On March 10th, Wal-Mart is scheduled to meet with neighbors to discuss the plan, where they will try to sell residents on the notion that this is a Wal-Mart unlike any other, especially designed for Cedar Hills, etc. City officials say the county has zoned the land as a transit-oriented retail commercial use, which allows retail stores in excess of 5,000 square feet. There is no size limit on retail stores within this zone, officials note, but that does not mean that any intensity or scale is acceptable, especially if it creates traffic problems that require extraordinary mitigation to maintain level of service. The city annexed this land last month, sending a clear signal that they want this Wal-Mart, and are prepared to urge local residents to view this giant project as a done deal. The city’s Board of Design Review will only look at the superficial exterior of the building, but not address its inappropriate scale and intensity of use. Opponents say that the proposed store will choke off nearby intersections and make the level of service along Route 26 even worse than it is today. Wal-Mart will try to say that its traffic engineers will add thousands of cars to the roadway yet ironically make the traffic situation better. They always say that, and the city would do well to hire its own peer reviewer — at the developer’s expense — to get an independent look at whether or not the traffic will really work at this site.
Save Cedar Mill’s website is www.savecedarmill.com. For other local contacts, email [email protected]