Since You Asked: Where's Wal-Mart?

With all the work going on along Highway 99 related to ODOT's new interchange, I keep looking to see if there's any construction related to the new Wal-Mart at the former Miles Field. What is the status of that? Wasn't it supposed to be open December 2005? What's the hold-up?

— Don B., Medford

It's the traffic, Don. Rather, the issue revolves around whether or not Wal-Mart should be required to do an extensive traffic study and mitigate any traffic impacts to numerous intersections. We're waiting for the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals to make a decision about the 207,000-square-foot store.

It all began back in 2003, when the Wal-Mart Supercenter was first proposed for the 19.5-acre site between Center Drive and Highway 99, the former home of Miles Field. Medford's Site Plan and Architectural Commission approved the project, but the City Council rejected its approval in 2004.

Wal-Mart appealed to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals, which returned the issue to the council, saying it did not adequately explain why a traffic study was not required for the application. The council then sent it back to the commission, which approved the architectural and landscape portion of a revised proposal and stuck by its decision not to require any further study of traffic impacts.

The proposal came back to the council, and in June 2006 was approved. Meanwhile, Wendy Siporen, Shareen Vogel, Christine Lachner and Medford Citizens for Responsible Development have argued from the start that a comprehensive traffic study should be required, and it's their appeal of the 2006 council approval that's before LUBA now.

Everything is on hold pending the LUBA ruling.

The latest wrinkle was Medford's request to submit extra evidence to the record, which LUBA denied in June. LUBA's final order is due Aug. 7, but Kelly Burgess, LUBA spokeswoman, said it is common for the board to ask for an additional seven days to issue the final opinion, which would push the date back to Aug. 14.

We at Since You Asked have learned to stop holding our breath when it comes to LUBA appeals. It can all become very complex. So perhaps you shouldn't get too attached to that Aug. 14 date.

Send questions by regular mail to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by e-mail to

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