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Commission Oks Walmart Proposal

DALLAS -- The Dallas Planning Commission approved plans for a proposed expansion of the local Walmart store at its meeting Jan. 10.

DALLAS -- The Dallas Planning Commission approved plans for a proposed expansion of the local Walmart store at its meeting Jan. 10.

While approval was unanimous, concerns about the impact of increased traffic as a result of the expansion persisted.

The Oregon Department of Transportation -- which has jurisdiction over the roads where the store's major accesses are located -- has determined traffic wouldn't increase enough around the store due to the expansion to make a more thorough traffic analysis necessary.

According to a traffic impact study performed on behalf of Walmart by Transpo Group of Kirkland, Wash., peak hour trips will increase by 53, a 13 percent increase. Also, the increase in total daily trips is estimated at 642, or a 14 percent increase.

According to ODOT rules, the increase in both cases would have to meet or exceed 20 percent for a change of use application for Walmart's access permits to be needed.

However, ODOT's conclusion didn't lessen the concern for some commissioners or numerous residents who have submitted testimony at and since the Nov. 8 public hearing on the expansion.

In response to concerns regarding traffic, the city issued a supplementary staff report on Dec. 6, including as a condition of approval that Walmart participate in any local improvement district formed to pay for future road improvements in the area.

Walmart strongly opposed that condition and used ODOT's determination to defend its position.

"The Applicant (Walmart) respectfully disagrees with the staff's recommendation that (the) proposed condition is authorized ... because the roads serving the subject property are State transportation facilities under the Oregon Department of Transportation's jurisdiction and ODOT already determined the improvements were not necessary to accommodate the proposed expansion," wrote Walmart attorney Gregory Hathaway in a response to the proposed condition.

Jason Locke, the city's economic development director, said such conditions are fairly standard on new business and expansion proposals.

"We did further research and found that local improvement districts couldn't be formed on state highways," Locke said.

The city subsequently removed the condition from its recommendation.

At the Jan. 10 meeting, Commissioner Dave Pederson said he found it hard to believe traffic wouldn't be an issue and recommended if problems do occur, that the city seek to remove or change the left-hand turn option to the store on East Ellendale Avenue.

"I personally think the state of Oregon is wrong," Pederson said, but noting he would approve the plans. "I think that intersection will be a problem. I don't think it's going to get better as we bring in what is basically a grocery store."

Members of Neighbors for Dallas, a group which opposes the expansion, said they had no comment following the decision.

The planning commission will issue a final written order of its decision by Friday. The order, sent to all who participated in the public hearings, will include decision appeal rights and procedures.

If not appealed, the decision will be final. If an appeal is filed, it will be heard by the Dallas City Council.

Walmart's Plans

Walmart has proposed an expansion of its Dallas store, located at 321 N. Kings Valley Highway.

The highlights include:

Space to be added:

18,317 square feet.

Current square footage:

81,500 square feet.

What will be added:

A full grocery line. The entrance will be remodeled and store interior layout reset. The store's parking lot will be reconfigured for better traffic control using more landscape islands.

What will be removed:

The store's tire and lube center will be closed.

Plans submitted to city of Dallas:

Sept. 16, 2011.

Plans approved by the Dallas Planning Commission:

Jan. 10, 2012.

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