Residents in Hood River, Oregon are in a race for time with a Wal-Mart supercenter. Hood River already has a Wal-Mart, but now they are faced with a supercenter. Although the city just passed a zoning ordinance capping the size of buildings, the county has not adoptedit, and residents fear that Wal-Mart will try to build on land just over the city limit, trying to dodge the cap. A group called The Citizens for Responsible Growth filed the following report: “The City of Hood River recently passed an ordinance limiting the size of retail stores in Hood River to 50,000 square feet. This ordinance is in effect within the City Limits of Hood River. According to a 1997 agreement between the City and County, all development outside the City limits, but within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) is subject to the City’s planning guidelines. However, since the footprint ordinance was created after the agreement, the County has to approve the change to the City??s planning code. Wal-Mart wants to place a 185,000 square foot super store directly across the freeway from the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel. The size of this building makes it completely incompatible for our town, it’s residents, and the context of the site. It is, to be sure, a bad deal for Hood River. Wal-Mart has yet to formally submit a plan for county review. If the County accepts the footprint ordinance in the near term, it is possible that the Wal-Mart would not be allowed to be built on the site. The Wal-Mart application does not meet the planning criteria for development. Here’s what’s at stake: A huge building and attendant parking lot at the entrance to town. The ignition of a ‘building war’ where the other merchants in town immediately develop competing properties The viability of many of our heights businesses. Further strain, and the ultimate inability for traditional business to ever be located downtown. The destruction of our ‘small town’ look and feel, something that many business people have worked hard to develop, and is currently a major draw for Hood River.
The CRG is asking people to contact the Hood River County Commissioners, a panel “that was elected by us, to bring the footprint issue forward to be acted upon immediately!” Sprawl-Busters anywhere can write to the 5 County Commissioners- Chair-John Arens, Vice-Chair-Carol York, Les Perkins, Chuck Thomsen, and Bob Hastings. Their address is: Hood River County Courthouse, Hood River, Oregon 97031.