Tacoma’s temporary ban on new big box stores will continue, but the controversial Wal-Mart proposal that sparked the city’s moratorium in the first place will no longer be affected by it.
Instead, under an amended version of the box store moratorium approved by the City Council’s 6 to 3 vote Tuesday, the Wal-Mart Supercenter planned for the sprawling Elks’ property in Central Tacoma can move ahead through the city’s development process.
Several council members said Tuesday while they didn’t necessarily like it, the city’s hands were effectively tied. The WalMart application already had been deemed complete and was “vested” when the council’s original moratorium kicked in on Sept. 1, they said. That meant the development was destined to happen, moratorium or not.
“Yeah, a lot of us are frustrated,” Councilman David Boe told a crowd who showed up at Tuesday’s meeting to denounce the planned WalMart. “It’s not unique to the audience — this is a frustrating situation.”
Still, Boe said the city’s land use code, which the moratorium seeks to allow the time to review and update, is legally bound to be “company blind.” and apply fairly to all applicants.
“I know a lot of people don’t want to hear that,” said Boe, who helped draft the amended moratorium. “…But I think this is fair and looks at our code objectively.”
Some opponents of the measure said they appreciated the council’s efforts, but vowed to continue to fight the project. They’ll key on state environmental policy act requirements, they said.
“We’ll try to fight it that way,” said Tricia DeOme, president of the Central Neighborhood Council. “I know (council members are) scared of lawsuits and there weren’t the votes, so there was no reason for us to fight them about this.’
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