Wal-Mart asked for plan detail

Wal-Mart has been asked to provide more data on about 50 items in its super center building application.

Hood River County planners posted a letter Jan. 16 to Scott Franklin of Pacific Land Designs asking primarily for a further analysis of traffic, infrastructure and wetland issues. The Clackamas-based firm submitted Wal-Mart schematics on Dec. 17 for a 185,000 square foot store on a little more than 16 acres at the junction of Frankton and Country Club roads.

During the past month the county has spent $2,000 to hire two Portland consulting firms -- traffic and wetland experts -- to comb through Wal-Mart's building plans for missing information. County officials have also solicited comments from involved state, county and city agencies to pinpoint any infrastructure weaknesses in the proposal for the large-scale structure.

Eric Walker, county senior planner, said the Oregon Department of Transportation and other stakeholders have categorically requested a more in-depth traffic analysis, including an accident review, a weekend trip volume count, and a more detailed estimate of both pedestrian and bicycle use near the proposed store. Officials are also seeking the specific mitigation measures Wal-Mart will undertake to offset changes to Cascade Avenue, which is also a section of the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Since Wal-Mart is proposing to restore Phelps Creek to its natural channel, the county wants more details about how that move will change peak flows downstream, which could increase erosion along embankments. Walker said Wal-Mart is also being asked to provide further detail about the piping system it will use to stop flooding into the creek and surrounding riparian areas when storm water runs off the 12-acre parking lot.

The national retailer has also been directed to explain how it will mitigate damage to the affected wetland areas from its development. It has been requested to provide a copy of these measures that have been filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Oregon Division of State Lands for approval. Wal-Mart will also be required to explain how it plans to maintain and treat pollution in two 18,000 cubic feet underground chambers. These containers will be used to catch excess water from the pavement and then channel it into the central water system to prevent flooding.

Although area residents have raised concerns that moving Phelps Creek could adversely affect native fish runs, Steve Pribyl, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife acting district fisheries biologist, said there are no federally threatened or endangered fish populations in that waterway at this time. Under state law, Wal-Mart now has 150 days to provide the additional data. Once complete the application would be forwarded to the county Planning Commission for a hearing.

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