For over a year and a half, residents in Batavia, New York have kept a Wal-Mart supercenter at bay through legal appeals. The group Batavia First won its first round in court, only to lose the second round on the Appellate level, as we reported on February 12, 2006. But on March 8th, Batavia First filed papers with the state Supreme Court, continuing to argue, as they successfully did in the lower courts, that the town of Batavia did not properly adhere to the rules of the state’s Environmental Quality Review Act. The case hinges on a procedural argument that the town did not fully complete the requirements of an environmental review, and did not submit a “full statement” of the case. Batavia First charges that the town tried to “ignore key disputed issues” in the case, such as traffic flow, drainage, impact on the community, and other environmental issues. The town’s lawyer says, however, that the citizen’s group did not ask for any kind of injunction, so Wal-Mart can start to build their store. The Appellate Division judges ruled that State Supreme Court Justice Robert Noonan was wrong when he ruled the town had not properly conducted its environmental review. Wal-Mart has been trying to get approval to expand its current discount store into a superstore, but citizen opposition has thrown them off by at least a year and a half.
Without legal appeal, Wal-Mart would already be in the ground and open by now. But Batavia First has denied Wal-Mart what they thought would be an easy expansion approval. Because the lower court agreed, in part, that the town did not do its job correctly, the citizens are willing to continue their fight. For earlier stories, search Newsflash by “Batavia.”