Medford won't appeal Wal-Mart ruling

The city will not to appeal a state land-use board's recent ruling on a Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed for the old Miles Field site in south Medford.

"If they're saying that we should have done something, then by all means we should do it," Councilman Jason Anderson said before the decision at a noon meeting Thursday.

The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals ruled earlier this month that the city erred in barring a citizens group from speaking in a public hearing on Wal-Mart.

Medford had until Sept. 28 to file an appeal with the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Wal-Mart still could appeal the decision, but the council decided the city would not join it. Attempts to reach Wal-Mart attorneys Thursday were unsuccessful.

LUBA ruled that the city was incorrect in denying Medford Citizens for Responsible Development the right to participate in proceedings about the store in November 2005. The city attorney denied the group the right to speak during one of the hearings, saying it had lost "standing" when it failed to file a brief in a 2004 LUBA appeal.

The group, led by Talent Councilwoman Wendy Siporen, has argued the developers of the 207,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter project should be required to conduct a comprehensive traffic study for the site. Such a study would show the additional traffic the store would generate and make Wal-Mart financially responsible for street improvements needed to handle it.

Wal-Mart representatives have argued that the city cannot legally require them to do a comprehensive study. A traffic study for the property was completed in 1991 at the time of a zoning change. The City Council approved the Wal-Mart project after numerous hearings.

Following Thursday's meeting, Siporen said she is pleased that her group will be able to address concerns about traffic.

"It is a new council," she said. "And a minority of the previous council wanted to address the traffic."

She said not only does the council have the authority to require a comprehensive traffic study, but city ordinances require it.

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