I attended the Hood River County Planning Commission's open meeting last night (Dec. 5) and I felt sorry for the guys. The County Board of Commissioners had handed the Wal-Mart hot potato to them. The question they were to advise on was: Is the pending issue of Wal-Mart building a mega-mart a planning "emergency" and worthy of special treatment.
A goodly number of city and county citizens presented testimony that it was an emergency for various reasons, and a local barrister declared the need to define this situation as an "emergency" a "red herring," based on previous actions and court rulings by this group and others like it.
The planning group decided that it was not a planning emergency but it was a political question to be decided by the commissioners. And, as far as they are concerned, a process for addressing the planning issue is in place. So the potato was handed back, still steaming. The commissioners will meet Dec. 17 to have another look at that potato.
Here are my concerns:
1. The clock is running. In retail, where every day is an emergency, tough and dedicated company fighters will proceed, knowing that clock is running in favor of their application.
2. I hope the commissioners will not take the decision of the planning group as having relieved them of their responsibilities. Some one in the county has to start to bring protective and defining language to the issues of responsible growth and life-style, particularly in an area where many voters are outspoken about both.
3. A vote was conducted on the casino issue. Is that appropriate here?
I am afraid of waking up and finding Wal-Mart by Default!