For the second time in recent months, Wal-Mart has lost a battle to locate in an Oregon community. But this time, they are going to accept defeat, and look for another site. The Oregonian newspaper reports this week that Wal-Mart has announced it won’t fight Oregon City’s vote to deny the company a zoning change. Wal-Mart now has to give up plans to construct a 135,000-square-foot store on Molalla Avenue. The company is expected to turn now to Plan B or C, choosing even less desirable sites. “We are exploring other options in the best interest of the hundreds of Oregon City residents who support seeing a Wal-Mart coming to Oregon City,” said a Wal-Mart spokesman. “We felt it was not in our best interest to appeal,” Wal-Mart obviously had little ground to appeal a decision by the city not to alter its comprehensive plan. “There is a lot more discretion by the city and we don’t feel an appeal . . is our best option,” Wal-Mart admitted. Wal-Mart wanted the city to change its comprehensive plan, and rezone two acres of land from residential to commercial. The zone change would have required houses and apartments to be demolished, and residens relocated, just to build a parking lot for Wal-Mart. The Planning Commission recommended the city deny the request, and city commissioners unanimously opposed the land-use change. City officials said Wal-Mart failed to show that the city needed additional commercial land or that the benefits of the project outweighed the need for affordable housing. Many city residents testified that the store would create severe traffic problems and run other retailers out of business. A Wal-Mart appeal to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals would be difficult because cities have broad powers under the comprehensive plans to determine how much land is needed for housing or other purposes. Wal-Mart is currently appealing a local decision against them in Hillsboro to the land use board. Having lost this site, Wal-Mart is now talking with the Mayor about finding another location, but there are not many large tracts available for a store so out of scale with the local built environment. Of course, Wal-Mart could scale down the project, but the company seems to have a hard time shaving off the size of their proposals.
Oregon City and Hillsboro have both rejected a Wal-Mart supercenter. One simple reason is that the company is approaching these communities with stores that are just too large. Wal-Mart could have placed a smaller store on commercial land in Oregon City, and not needed any rezoning. But the company’s own excesses sometimes drive it from its own goals. For other regional stories, search Newsflash by “Oregon”.