Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wal-Mart Victorious In AmCan

Wal-Mart Victorious In AmCan
By DAN JUDGE/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

AMERICAN CANYON - After a three-year legal and political battle, a nearly finished Wal-Mart Supercenter got the go-ahead Tuesday to open its doors this fall.

Napa Superior Court Judge Raymond Guadagni ruled that the city's reapproval of the store in April satisfied an appellate court's zoning and environmental concerns.

Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said work on the Supercenter, which is 95 percent complete, will resume "imminently."

"We expect the store would be open for business in the early fall," he said. "We're looking forward to the day we can open the doors and begin serving our customers."

Simley said Wal-Mart customers will be impressed when it does open. "The store, I have to tell you, really is stunning," he said. "It's a beautiful store and an excellent example of what a new Wal-Mart store looks like."

Stacy Su, who sued to stop the project along with the group Citizens Against Poor Planning (CAPP), said she had not read the court decision and declined to comment when reached by telephone Tuesday.

Lawyers for that group and American Canyon Community United for Responsible Growth, which also filed suit, did not return calls.

Store supporters have charged that the groups are thinly veiled fronts for competing grocers.

It was Guadagni's second ruling in favor of the city, Wal-Mart and the developer of the Napa Junction project that the Supercenter will anchor.

The City Council originally approved the store in 2004 and the two groups quickly filed suit.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco overturned that decision in November, saying the 194,000-square-foot store's size was misrepresented. It also found potential impacts on traffic and the local economy had not been adequately studied.

The city commissioned new traffic and economic studies and reconsidered the project's permits, which it approved.

CAPP attorney Timothy Taylor argued in court this month that the city still had not done enough to address the store's impacts, including its effect on global warming.

Judge Guadagni strongly disagreed, noting that Taylor had failed to provide any authority that requires the city to address climate change at this point in the process.

"Hopefully, this is the end of the litigation," City Attorney Bill Ross said.

Vincent "Buzz" Butler of Lake Street Ventures was relieved by Tuesday's ruling. "We're glad it's over," Butler said. "The project has been very well received and it's a wonderful amenity for American Canyon."

Plans call for Wal-Mart to close its overcrowded store in Vallejo's Meadows Plaza when the American Canyon store opens. Home Depot has signed a contract to take over the old site when that occurs.

Wal-Mart wants to open yet another Supercenter only four miles away from the new store, along Sonoma Boulevard in Vallejo.

E-mail Dan Judge at or call 553-6831.

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