Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wal-Mart Edges Closer To Reality

Wal-Mart Edges Closer To Reality
By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic | January 29, 2008

SUISUN CITY - Hoots, cheers and applause punctuated Tuesday night's meeting of the Suisun City Planning Commission as speakers came out for and against the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The planning commission for its part came out for Wal-Mart.

Community Development Director Heather McCollister told the commissioners that planning staff had determined that the Environmental Impact Report and related mitigation program does comply with state requirements, and that the Wal-Mart plan is consistent with the city's General Plan and Zoning.

If built, the supercenter would occupy part of a now-vacant commercial parcel at Highway 12 and Walters Road.

The project, in November, was ruled 'inconsistent' with Travis Air Force Base by the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission.

Because the city's General Plan, at present, is not consistent with the county's airport land use plan, Suisun City and Wal-Mart, as co-applicants, presented the proposal to the Airport Land Use Commission. The ALUC ruled that the project is not consistent with the mission of the base for safety and other reasons.

The last word, however, rests with the Suisun City Council when it votes Feb. 12 on whether to override the ALUC ruling.

The Planning Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to recommend to the council that it certify the Wal-Mart Environmental Impact Report and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program.

The commissioners also voted unanimously to recommend that the council find the supercenter project consistent with Suisun City's General Plan and zoning.

Without a recommendation from the Planning Commission, the council will decide whether to override the ALUC.

The project has been fraught with controversy and Tuesday night's meeting ran true to form, with comments arguing about a perceived 'encroachment' on Travis that some think could lead to the closure of the base, to the jobs Wal-Mart could provide area teenagers who, some say, don't presently have enough to do.

Traffic was a big issue during the public hearing, and some Lawler Ranch residents worried about collisions between Wal-Mart traffic and big-rigs on Highway 12.

Planned intersection improvements to be paid for by Wal-Mart, the commissioners were subsequently told, will make Wal-Mart-impacted intersections safer than they are right now.

When asked whether Wal-Mart is confident it can support both the supercenter and another Wal-Mart planned for North Texas Street in Fairfield, a Wal-Mart spokesman said yes, because the retail giant's current Fairfield store 'has exceeded expectations.'

Sales tax revenue that would help pay for Suisun City street repairs and public safety came up often during the public hearing, as did the local availability of discount prices and one-stop shopping.

Penny Hernandez, who told the commission that she has lived in the same Suisun City house for 49 years, said she now takes her 89-year-old mother to shop at discount stores in Fairfield.

Her mother, she said, 'has such a hard time getting out of the car going from store to store to store.'

Hernandez also said she 'has a 13-year-old daughter who may one day benefit from having a place to work.'

Others said if the council votes to override the ALUC, it will be a 'betrayal' of the many residents who vehemently oppose the Wal-Mart project.

In the Draft EIR, 60 percent of the 240 people who submitted comments opposed the project.

The Wal-Mart EIR and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program can be read in full online at

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at

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