Retail giant hopes to 'work with the city' to find another site

Wal-Mart has dropped its plans for a Cedar Mill store.

A company spokeswoman said Thursday evening that the Bentonville, Ark., retail giant would not appeal the Beaverton City Council's Aug. 7 unanimous decision rejecting the proposed 152,308-square-foot store that would have been built at the busy intersection of Southwest Cedar Hills Boulevard and Barnes Road.

Wal-Mart might look for new site in or near Beaverton, said Jennifer Holder, senior manager for public affairs for Wal-Mart's western region. The company was anxious to work with city officials to avoid a repeat of the contentious battle that gripped the Cedar Mill area for more than a year because of the store's proposal, she said.

'Wal-Mart wants to be part of the Beaverton community as a partner,' Holder said. 'We have cooperated with the city, (Washington) county and the Oregon Department of Transportation every step of the way with this application.

'We feel that the legal and land-use arguments for an appeal in this case are strong. However, we want to work with the city. The City Council clearly has a different idea about how this particular stie should be developed and a long, protracted legal battle is not in anyone's best interests.'

Wal-Mart had until early next week to appeal the city's decision to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.

Developer PacLand of Milwaukie proposed in March 2005 construction of the Wal-Mart on 9.3 acres of vacant land north of the Sunset Highway as part of the Town Square Too project.

The site was annexed into the city in February 2005. City planners tried to blend Washington County's transit-oriented zoning with comparable Beaverton zones for the property. The City Council's staff report on the project was about 8,000 pages long.

Area residents immediately formed an anti-Wal-Mart group, Save Cedar Mill, and hired an attorney, a land-use planner and a traffic engineer to battle the proposal.

On June 1, Beaverton's Board of Design Review approved the Town Square Too proposal with 76 conditions, including the requirement that Wal-Mart pay about $2 million to improve and widen the Cedar Hills Boulevard-Barnes Road intersection to eight lanes in all directions. It would have been one of the largest intersections in the state.

Save Cedar Mill appealed to the City Council, which held more than eight hours of hearings during two days in mid-July. The council voted 5 to 0 Aug. 7 to uphold the citizens' appeal, rejecting the store.

At the heart of their decision, city councilors said they were concerned about traffic problems in an area that will eventually be developed with hundreds of new homes and retail outlets. They also did not think the store fit the area's transit-oriented development zoning left from when the property was under Washington County's jurisdiction.

Holder said Friday that the store hoped to return to the city with a new plan for another site.

'When we come back, we expect to be heard fairly and held to the same standards as all other land-use cases,' she said.

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