Marion County Circuit Judge Dale Penn issued a ruling Monday that moved the proposal to site a Walmart Super Center in The Dalles another step closer to reality.
Citizens for Responsible Development in The Dalles had challenged the Department of Environmental Quality’s approval of the company’s development plan for the 150,000-square-foot store on a 21-acre property near the Chenoweth interchange.
The appeal hearing was filed by Citizens in Marion County because that is the location of Salem, the state capital, and the decision of a state agency was being disputed.
“We are pleased with the judge’s ruling affirming Oregon DEQ’s approval of Walmart’s stormwater management plan, an important step for this long-anticipated store to move forward,” said Rachel Wall, senior communications manager for Walmart.
“We look forward to fulfilling the need that our customers and the city have clearly identified — to provide a commercial retail option consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan for a full-service store in the western part of The Dalles.”
She said the planned store will employ about 300 associates and provide citizens of The Dalles with a one-stop shopping option.
John Nelson, a representative of Citizens, attended the trial and issued this written statement Monday evening on behalf of the group: “CFRD is saddened that this decision is going to allow further wetland destruction in the Columbia River floodplain. We need to preserve, not destroy these valuable resources.”
Nelson said Citizens are further reviewing the DEQ permit and will be evaluating whether to appeal or challenge it.
On Jan. 28, Penn directed Walmart’s legal counsel, Greg Hathaway, and the Oregon Attorney General to prepare the final order for his signature, which is expected to be signed within the next couple of weeks.
Walmart’s proposal, which was approved by the City of The Dalles, has also been held up for about three years by regulatory challenges.
Wall said the company is working with the Army Corps and Oregon Division of State Lands to obtain the necessary state and federal permits for wetland mitigation. She anticipates a decision on those permits within the next few months.
To compensate for the loss of wetlands under the building and 8-acre parking lot, the company has proposed to create two small and one large wetland. In addition, the habitat degraded by prior excavation and the placement of fill material would be enhanced.