Tuesday, April 17, 2012
DALLAS -- Neighbors for Dallas, Lydia Graber, Jeremiah Mulder and Randall Houser filed an appeal of the Dallas Planning Commission decision to approve Walmart's plan to expand its Dallas location on Feb. 3. The appeal, which contained three issues, was heard and denied by the Dallas City Council on March 5. That decision is now being appealed to the Oregon Land Use Board of appeals.
Here are the three issues in question and the city's response, edited for brevity.
Issue 1: The existing on-site stormwater system is not adequate to serve the existing store and there is no evidence it is working as required. The outdoor garden center stores products containing environmentally harmful chemicals that could cause chemical runoff to flow into storm drains.
Response: The original system installed in 1995 was 30 percent larger than required and the amount of water flowing into the system will not increase due to this expansion.
To address the issues of potential runoff, the city added two conditions of approval: all products containing harmful chemicals must be stored indoors or outside under cover and storm drains be outfitted with devises preventing sediment and chemicals from entering the system.
Issue 2: The existing store is a nonconforming use, or zoned improperly for the activity taking place on the site, and the city's zoning code prevents nonconforming uses from being expanded. Also, the appellants assert the store's driveways are nonconforming.
Response: Walmart's property is zoned "commercial general" which allows retail sales. However, the store is a nonconforming development, meaning that elements of the property have not been updated to meet the city's current code. The code has been revised since the store was built originally.
Expansions of a nonconforming use are allowed if changes bring the property closer to compliance with the city's code, which city staff said would happen in this case.
Issue 3: The city's code requires a traffic impact analysis (TIA) when a land-use application involves an increase of 300 or more average daily trips. The Walmart expansion is estimated to increase trips by more than 600, so a TIA should have been performed, but one wasn't. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), the road authority in this case, has not demonstrated why it didn't require a study. Walmart should have collected actual data instead of relying on estimates from the Institute of Traffic Engineers Manual.
Response: The city concluded that, while the code states a TIA is needed when trips increase by 300 or more, that provision was meant to be read in conjunction with a second, providing that a TIA is needed only if the road authority requires it.
Walmart sent ODOT a "traffic impact study scope" including trip increase estimates. ODOT determined that a TIA wasn't needed to approve the plans. The city deferred to ODOT as the road authority and didn't order a TIA.
ODOT provided a copy of its "Change of Use" evaluation in the record.