FRESNO – The 5th District Court of Appeals in Fresno ruled
last month in favor of the city of Tehachapi for the proposed building of a Walmart.
The appeal came after the city addressed several environmental
concerns about the project.
case was originally brought to court in 2011 by the group Tehachapi First over
environmental concerns involving the project. Per the
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the city of Tehachapi released an
Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
In 2012, Kern County Superior Court
Judge Kenneth Twisselman issued a peremptory writ of mandate and judgment requiring
the city to address several issues with the report.
“There were three topics of the 14
in the California Environmental Quality Act there were issues with, which were
water, traffic and noise,” Jay Schlosser, development services director of city
of Tehachapi, told the Northern California
The city released a revised EIR.
order to comply with the peremptory writ of mandate and judgment, the city
prepared the revised EIR that addressed the cumulative water supply impacts,
cumulative noise impacts and cumulative traffic impact analyses that were found
to be deficient,” he said.
Twisselman approved the changes but
Tehachapi appealed his decision.
city was easily able to ratify traffic and rework the consumption, but noise
ended up being the biggest issue.
According to the court’s opinion, the
plaintiffs brought forward three noise complaints: “the location on residential
lots where measurements were taken to establish the baseline noise level,” “the
revised EIR’s decision to evaluate roadway segments containing hotels by using
the noise thresholds applicable to commercial property, rather than residential
property,” and “the standards or thresholds used to determine whether
cumulative noise impacts were significant.”
court approved the city’s changes to its EIR and green lighted the project. The
plaintiffs have less than a month to appeal the decision.
talked about the importance of getting the 165,000-square-foot Walmart to the
“We lose 50 percent of our retail dollars to
outside cities because we’re kind of remote,” Schlosser said.
The city performed economic
analysis and found the Walmart would be very unlikely to negatively impact surrounding
businesses except for two supermarkets.
Not only could money stay in the
city, traffic in and out of the city could be reduced as well.
“On an environmental level, there
were some positive impacts because we get quite a few cars leaving the area
every day,” Schlosser said.
In additional to the lawsuit with
Tehachapi First, Schlosser has also heard citizens forming negative opinions and
is frustrated that people don’t read the reports the city has written.
“We are actually looking at these
things and considering the impact,” Schlosser said. “I strongly suggest people
read the reports before forming an opinion.”
Schlosser said despite some of the negative
attention the proposed Walmart has gotten, he’s also heard some positive
“There have been no reports
commissioned by the city, but anecdotally there seems to be quite a bit of
community support,” Schlosser said.