Both Wal-Mart, neighbors appeal

The debate over the Port Orchard Wal-Mart’s proposed expansion has started another round, as both store neighbors Mary Ann and Bill Huntington and Wal-Mart itself have filed appeals of the hearing examiner’s October ruling on the project.

Not surprisingly, the two appellants object to completely different aspects of the examiner’s decision. Wal-Mart claims the conditions of the approval are too restrictive, while the Huntingtons, speaking for their neighborhood as a whole, claim the approval should be overturned altogether.

The appeals were supposed to have been heard Monday but, because of an issue with public notification, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners held the matter over to its Jan. 26 meeting.

The debate over the proposed 105,000-square-foot expansion has been going on for months.

The Huntingtons, along with a list of fellow neighbors, strenuously object to Wal-Mart’s plans to add a grocery element on the side and back of its Bethel Road store. The Huntingtons even filed an appeal of the environmental impact study attached to the project even before the matter went to the hearing examiner, claiming the study had failed to take into account light, sound and socio-economic impacts associated with an expansion.

Their most recent appeal falls long similar lines.

The Huntingtons say the late-night activity at Wal-Mart’s loading dock —located less than 100 feet from their back yard — has given both of them a permanent case of insomnia. Mary Ann Huntington even invited hearing examiner Stephen Causseaux, Jr., over to experience the subject of her concerns first-hand, but Huntington said he clearly didn’t grasp how bad the situation could get — especially at night.

“(The officials) don’t don’t here,” she said. “They don’t know what goes on at night.”

In his findings, Causseaux agreed that Wal-Mart does create a significant amount of noise — enough to impact its neighbors. However, he also decided the existing noise mitigations planned for the site were sufficient to solve the problem.

In their appeal, the Huntingtons also claim the examiner failed to take into account the “blight” Wal-Mart would visit upon nearby businesses if allowed to expand.

Union leaders representing Safeway workers have been very vocal in their opposition to Wal-Mart’s plans — in Port Orchard, a Safeway store immediately abuts Wal-Mart and is expected to go under should Wal-Mart add a grocery element to its offerings.

Wal-mart’s appeal seeks a change to the hearing examiner’s stipulation that county officials be allowed to institute more restrictions on the development as they see fit. In its appeal, Wal-Mart says additional conditions are unnecessary. In return for eliminating the option for extra conditions, the store is offering to extend the noise study period and pay for a noise engineer to monitor sound at the site.

Although the County Board of Commissioners will not take oral testimony on the appeal until January, the public hearing portion of the process was officially opened Monday.

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