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Walmart Expansion Upheld By Luba

DALLAS -- The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) has upheld the city of Dallas' decision to approve plans for an expansion of Walmart.

DALLAS -- The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) has upheld the city of Dallas' decision to approve plans for an expansion of Walmart.

LUBA issued its decision in the case Thursday, upholding the Dallas City Council's March 5 decision.

"It was just an affirmation of the council's

thorough process and that it addressed the right issues," said Jason Locke, Dallas' community development director.

The city council decision followed an appeal of the Dallas Planning Commission's approval of Walmart's expansion plans in January.

The petitioners in the case were Neighbors for Dallas, Lydia Graber, Jeremiah Mulder and Randall Houser.

In the appeal, the petitioners case was based on two points, called "Assignments of Error," questioning the city's rulings on the necessity of a traffic impact analysis (TIA).

The petitioners, represented by Eugene attorney Sean Malone, argued the traffic study included in Walmart's application was inadequate.

Instead the city should have required Walmart to conduct a TIA, using data from a local and similarly sized store to determine how the expansion would impact traffic in the area surrounding the store.

In the 10-page opinion, written by LUBA Chairwoman Melissa Ryan, the board sided with the city's and Walmart's argument that no similarly sized stores were available in the Dallas area, thus no local data could be obtained.

The petitioners second argument was based on the city's development code, which states a TIA must be completed if a development increases trips by more than 300, as this expansion would.

Again, LUBA sided with arguments refuting that interpretation. The city argued that its code also states the city defer to the "road authority," the Oregon Department of Transportation, which controls the major entrances to the store. ODOT determined no TIA was needed.

"The city did not err in concluding that ODOT had, in effect, determined that no TIA was necessary," the opinion read.

Malone said the decision was disappointing, as a TIA would have allowed the city to better anticipate traffic changes due to the expansion.

"The fact that Walmart will not be conducting a traffic study before expanding shows that Walmart is only here for a profit and does not care about our well being as a city," Graber said in a statement.

The petitioners can appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals within 21 days of LUBA issuing its final order.

"At this point, we are in the process of reviewing the decision and weighing our options," Malone said.

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