Wednesday, December 19, 2001
Your Dec. 8 story on the Planning Commission meeting did not report the actual resolution passed by the commission. This resulted in a distorted idea of both what happened at the meeting and what it means. I attended the meeting and during deliberations the planning commissioners agreed that the decision regarding whether an emergency existed was not a land use decision, their area of discretion. Three commissioners did state that they believed there is evidence that would allow the Board of Commissioners to declare an emergency.
The commissioners' resolution therefore did not find an emergency existed. However, their resolution went on to recommend that the Board of County Commissioners use their broad discretion in determining whether an emergency did exist.
Additionally your report left the impression that testimony was not significantly weighted towards one side or the other. The courtroom was full and over 20 people testified (of which I was one). Only two people testified against finding for an emergency ordinance and those two identified themselves as property owners who would benefit if Wal-Mart built a super-store here. Testimony included the impact on low income housing if the 33 units and 120 people were dislocated, the impact on the value of residential property and quality of life in the growing West side, and the impact of loss of jobs, businesses and tax base when small retailers are put out of business.
Additionally you reported statements that left the impression they were part of the meeting. You reported on a discussion of the legal concept of exclusionary zoning and quoted Commissioner Cummings about the danger of government bodies being sued. This never came up during the meeting. Perhaps the quote and discussion came after the meeting.
Finally, your report stated that much of the testimony was directed at Wal-Mart, either directly or obliquely. That is not true. Most of the testimony favoring a finding for an emergency was pointedly not at Wal-Mart but at big-box development. Most mention of Wal-Mart came about due to the fact that there probably is a pending application by Wal-Mart that would grossly violate the ordinance under consideration. Some testimony was directed specifically at Wal-Mart, but it was both for and against.