Walmart is not coming to Warrenton.

At least not anytime soon, after the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals sided with Clatsop Residents Against Walmart (CRAW) at the appeal against the store’s 17-acre construction on U.S. Highway 101 near Costco.

The Warrenton?Planning Commission approved the applications for site design, property line adjustments and variances back in November. The application included intent to build on a wetland and the variance dealt with fewer bicycle racks than required by city code.

But LUBA has remanded those applications, issuing the final opinion last week, which sends Walmart and its developers back to the planning commission.

“We are in the process of reviewing the decision by the Land Use Board of Appeals,” said Rachel Wall, senior manager of community affairs for Walmart.

Astoria resident Sara Meyer, a member of CRAW, shared the group’s success.

“It is our belief that Walmart is attempting to use their huge size to impose what they want rather than abide by the established codes of Warrenton,” she said.

A lower number of bike racks – 28 instead of 68, as code required one per 10 parking spaces – could not be granted on condition of a hardship because there was no hardship given, the LUBA opinion read. The LUBA opinion also states that the wetlands permit by the state needs to be authorized before the application is submitted.

On the first assignment of error, the wetlands issue, LUBA ruled, “we agree with petitioners that the planning director misconstrued” the city code.

“The site design review application did not include a valid state wetland removal-fill authorization,” the opinion reads. “Instead, planning staff recommended that the planning commission impose a condition requiring that the required state wetland fill/removal permit be submitted when (the Walmart developer) files a building permit application to construct the store approved in the site plan review. (CRAW) objected to this proposed condition, arguing the (city code) requires that a valid state permit be submitted along with the application for a ‘development permit,’ and that the site design review application is an application for a ‘development permit,’ because it seeks authorization to construct a large retail store. ...

“We agree with (CRAW) that if the planning director’s interpretation gives no effect to the term ‘development permit,’ then that interpretation is inconsistent with the text of (city code) which clearly presumes that there is some class of permits that qualify as ‘development permits’ for purposes of that code section, and that such permits are distinct from grading or building permits.”

LUBA also agreed on the second assignment of error, that addressed the location of the loading docks.

Part of the city’s site design review standards requires loading docks, outdoor storage yards and all other service areas to be located on the sides and/or rear of the building except when that site abuts Highway 101. With Walmart’s current design, the store does butt up against the highway, with loading docks still facing the roadway. The plans allow for a screening wall to disguise the docks, but LUBA sustained CRAW’s argument.

“We agree with petitioners that the city erred in concluding that the loading dock location complies with (city code),” the opinion states.

Finally, the third assignment of error was also met with agreement, in regards to the bike racks. LUBA ruled that Walmart had not proven a hardship for the reason why the number should be reduced.

The city, in its claim, addressed the hardship by saying “it was created through the imposition of the code requirement to provide 68 bicycle spaces with development of the site. The proposed use is a retail store that specializes in general household and consumer products and at times large packaged items and merchandise that are not typically transported via bicycle.”

When Costco’s application was approved, the city allowed for a reduction in bike rack spaces. The Warrenton City commission additionally has talked about removing this requirement from their code, capping the requirement at 28.

Tags

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.