Walmart grocery foes lose challenge

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat /

The Sonora City Council acted within the law in October 2010 when it waived any requirement for Walmart or the city to conduct an environmental impact report on the mega-retailer's expansion plans, California's highest court said.

The state Supreme Court decision released Thursday overturns a November 2012 ruling by the Fifth District Court of Appeal, which sided with the plaintiff, the Tuolumne Jobs and Small Business Alliance. The alliance argued an environmental impact report - a costly and time-consuming study of a project's environmental, cultural or economic impacts - was required.

However, speaking for the court, Justice Carol Ann Corrigan wrote that voter initiatives can be used in lieu of environmental reports, and that California law allows local governments to directly adopt such initiatives rather than hold an election.

"CEQA review is not required before direct adoption of the initiative, just as it is not required before voters adopt an initiative at an election," the judgement states.

Walmart's expansion plans will now go to the Tuolumne County Superior Court, where the parties will argue over whether the plan is consistent with the city's General Plan, a legal roadmap for housing and commercial development.

Sonora City Administrator Tim Miller called the ruling "huge news."

"It's great news for the city," he said. "It validates the action the City Council took."

The case focused on Walmart's plan to build a grocery section onto the Sanguinetti Road store.

Though the city had started an environmental impact report for the project, Sonora resident James Grinnell gathered signatures for a local initiative in 2010 to exempt the project from the requirement. The initiative, written by Walmart, required 15 percent of about 2,500 registered voters in the city to sign a petition.

Initiatives often end up on ballots for voters to approve or deny, but state election rules also allow the local public body like a city council to adopt the initiative as an ordinance. That's what the Sonora council did in October 2010, which led to the lawsuit filed by the mostly anonymous opposition group Tuolumne Jobs and Small Business Alliance.

The lawsuit asked the court to put the project on hold until an EIR could be completed.

For the complete story, see the Aug. 8 edition of The Union Democrat.

11922446
The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Sunday May 29, 2016

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
Sheriff’s deputies respond to alarm at Sonora KFC

05/26/2016

Tuolumne County sheriff’s deputies responded with guns drawn to a holdup alarm ... more

Avalon Care Center fined for patient death

05/24/2016

Avalon Care Center in Sonora has been fined $80,000 by the California ... more

UPDATE: Probe begins in Don Pedro fire

05/25/2016

Investigators began sifting through the rubble of the Don Pedro Recreation Agency ... more

Homelessness, high school and the Butte Fire

05/20/2016

Cole Baisch arrived at Calaveras High School around lunchtime as the sky ... more

Deputies visit schools, build community ties

05/24/2016

You would think Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Deputy Nate Yorston was Santa Claus ... more