Lawsuit dropped; Wal-Mart moves ahead with new stores

MARYSVILLE A labor union has dropped a lawsuit against a Wal-Mart store planned for Arlington, meaning the 204,000-square-foot supercenter could be open the first quarter of next year. Another store planned for Marysville has cleared legal obstacles and should open about the same time, according to company spokeswoman Jennifer Holder.
The United Food and Commercial Workers union had challenged both stores in court and dropped the suit against the store planned for 172nd Street NE in Arlington in early January. The Marysville store faced a suit as well but a Snohomish County Superior Court judge rejected their claims against the planned 188,000-square-foot store at SR 9 and 64th Street NE.
Everything is done as far as that matter is concerned, said Arlington City Attorney Steve Peiffle, who knew of no more regulatory obstacles for the store to be built just south of the Arlington airport.
Arlington hearing examiner Ted Hunters conditional approval of the store was appealed to the City Council by the Arlington community planning department, Wal-Mart itself and by the Smokey Point Community Matters citizens group. The city community planning department and Wal-Mart were objecting to fairly insignificant procedural issues and the City Council approved their objections. The citizens group was rebuffed and sought relief in Snohomish County Superior Court, the next legal remedy.
Basically, it was surprising to the city that they elected to drop the appeal at the point in the process that they did, Peiffle said.
Claudia Newman is a partner in the Seattle law firm representing the Arlington group. She felt the opposition group lost heart but stressed that the suit had merit.
The group just decided they didnt want to pursue it anymore, Newman said. I actually thought there was a good chance that we would have succeeded.
The cost of a suit didnt seem to phase the group, according to Newman, who handles other land use claims in sensitive areas, and does not just oppose Wal-Marts, although she handled the Marysville appeal as well and is working with a Mill Creek citizens group fighting a planned store in that city. The Mill Creek Hearing Examiner ordered an Environmental Impact Statement be prepared for that site, Newman said. She made a similar request for the 20-acre site in Marysville but was rebuffed.
In land use it goes on and on, Newman said. It was just a practical decision.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jennifer Holder said the two stores are now going to bid and said it normally takes nine to 11 months to build the shell and another three months to stock the interior.
Both of those stores should be online the first quarter of next year, Holder said, adding that one could be delayed by a couple of months.
She said the existing supercenter at Quil Ceda Village on the Tulalip Indian Reservation will stay open: rumors have circulated for years that the company is unhappy with the location or terms of its lease, but Quil Ceda Village manager John McCoy said that lease runs for 50 more years and that the parking lot is full and Wal-Mart is happy.

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