Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Approximately 90 community members gathered at the Nov. 22 Hood River City Planning Commission meeting in which the Walmart application to expand their store by 30,000-square-feet was due for a ruling. Public testimony was taken from both proponents and opponents. Brent Foster, volunteer attorney for Hood River Citizens for a Local Economy, asked the commission to allow, as new evidence, a letter submitted by four of the original planning commission members from 1991, who originally ruled on the Walmart facility. The letter, which confirmed that only 72,000 –square-feet were approved, was denied as new evidence and not included in the public record. Hathaway, responding to the proposed letter inclusion in the record, threatened to have Walmart proceed with their building expansion without seeking further approvals from the city planning commission to which the large crowd reacted strongly. Former 1991 planning commission member Linda Maddox testified on the facts found within the original ruling she helped to craft. Current Planning Commissioner Casey Weeks, clarified the evidence which informed his decision to deny the application. After three hours of testimony and evidence review, the four commissioners present voted three to one in favor of denying the application. Final formal denial document and findings will be voted on at the Nov. 29, 5:30 p.m. meeting. If Walmart appeals this ruling, the Hood River City Council will then hear the appeal and may decide to either uphold or overturn the planning commission decision.