Although several dozen citizens turned out for a Jan. 8 hearing on the issue, the proposal to create “Sequoia Village” — a WalMart “neighborhood market” development at the northeastern intersection of Baseline Road and Cornelius Pass Road — was put off until Feb. COURTESY IMAGE - An artists rendition of the proposed Hillsboro WalMart neighborhood market. This rendering was part of the original presentation to the Hillsboro Planning Commission, and the design is subject to change based on input project proponents received from the citys planning commissioners and the public at the Nov. 13 hearing.

Development of the 26-acre site where the new WalMart would be built includes a 242-unit residential complex.

Members of the Hillsboro Planning Commission voted unanimously to give Polygon, the primary applicant on the Sequoia Village project, additional time to prepare responses to concerns raised at an initial public hearing Nov. 13. Approximately 100 citizens turned out for that event, and those who spoke were virtually unanimous in their opposition to the proposal, citing traffic congestion, pedestrian safety, light pollution and other concerns.

Those involved in WalMart’s application process said waiting for an extra month was not unexpected, given the need to make architectural, engineering and other changes to the overall project while still allowing sufficient time for the city’s planning staff to review the changes. Proponents pointed out that even what may seem like modest changes can require several layers of review — from engineers and architects, as well as representatives of WalMart and Polygon. Further, because there are commercial as well as residential components of the development, the alteration process is even more time consuming than usual.

“We received some helpful feedback from the Planning Commission and Hillsboro residents in November,” said Rachel Wall, spokesperson for WalMart. “We’re in the process of making revisions based on their feedback, and look forward to continuing the discussion about how we can bring Hillsboro shoppers a store that meets their needs.”

Further public testimony will be accepted at the Feb. 12 hearing, which will be at the Hillsboro Civic Center.

At the Jan. 8 session, Katie Eyre, the newly-elected president of the planning commission, pointed out that in the November hearing on the WalMart proposal, public testimony had been closed.

However, because the proponent has been given more time to alter its proposal, citizens will be given another chance to provide testimony.

“Technically, we had closed the public testimony,” Eyre explained. “But we have decided to reset the meeting and allow a public hearing on the revised proposal — an opportunity citizens otherwise would not have.”

The WalMart proposal envisions the Sequoia Village development proceeding in four separate phases: phase one would be to build a 50,000 square foot WalMart grocery store; phase two would add 15 multi-family residential buildings with 242 individual units; and phase three and four would involve construction of two additional retail buildings that would be operated by companies other than WalMart.

The two buildings would total a combined 9,500 square feet and would be built at the corners of the overall 25.7-acre parcel.

Vince Dimone, one of the organizers of the opposition to the WalMart project, said the proponents’ request for an additional month to possibly revise their proposal was not startling.

“It is no surprise that WalMart’s attorney, Greg Hathaway, requested a continuance since there are many issues the applicant has to work on: building design/architecture, parking lot, road access and egress, plus the two adjoining roads and traffic issues,” Dimone said. “It is good the commission will allow attendee testimony after the WalMart-Polygon rebuttal scheduled for Feb. 12, because there are so many concerned local residents and many have just learned about this since they never received original notification from the city of Hillsboro.”

However, Dimone said he was concerned about the timing of the hearing, because the planning commission’s staff report is due out just one week before the February hearing.

“That seems too short for people to receive, review and prepare comments, but that seems to be the way these days with Hillsboro and apparent ‘pro-developer’ bias,” he said.

Dimone said he planned to make a mass distribution of a flier to neighbors in every direction within one-quarter to one-half of a mile of the proposed development site in an effort to boost turnout.

“This is a very major item, and so we need to address this very seriously and with great scrutiny,” Dimone said. “It would be great to have a minimum of 100 attendees there; possibly even more. Numbers do impress and impact the commissioners’ deliberations.”

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