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WalMart plan should be rejected

Massive expansion for Intel. A huge development on the table for South Hillsboro. And now a proposal for “Sequoia Village,” a mixed-use development that would include a new WalMart “neighborhood grocery store” and a 242-unit housing complex at one of the busier corners in Hillsboro — the intersection of Cornelius Pass Road and Baseline Road.

Last week, about 100 citizens turned out for a public hearing on a proposal to allow WalMart to build a 50,000 square foot store at the intersection, and the two dozen or so citizens who addressed the Hillsboro Planning Commission were unanimous in their opposition.

We realize a public hearing is not designed to be a public vote, and we realize members of the planning commission need to consider specific technical issues when making their decisions. Still, when the public opposition to a project is that overwhelming, we expect the city to listen.

Like many at the Nov. 13 hearing at the Hillsboro Civic Center, we thought the traffic study presented by the city’s transportation analysts was difficult to believe. They reported there was “sufficient capacity out there for this development” and “the development meets all requirements for the city and county.” Essentially, they said adding a WalMart and nearly 250 housing units at this already busy intersection would not create any significant traffic problems.

Huh? What type of data were they looking at?

Hillsboro residents have seen the impacts of a tsunami of growth over the past few years, and we think they have a real-world grasp of the likely impact of Sequoia Village that is more believable than what the city’s transportation analysts are reporting.

“Traffic would be atrocious,” said one.

“It would create a traffic nightmare,” said another.

We agree, and we urge city officials to recognize that we cannot keep adding more lanes or more stoplights to our roads and think that will solve traffic congestion issues.

The WalMart proposal has other drawbacks to consider as well — such as the amount of ambient light the project would bring. WalMart stores usually operate 24 hours a day, so this corner would add a substantial amount of light pollution to the neighborhood.

The proposed site of Sequoia Village is now an appealing 25 acres of green space, dotted with dozens of giant sequoia trees. Much of this soft, park-like area would be mowed down to make way for a business the community’s residents are saying they do not want.

Further, there are several grocery stores in the area already, including Fred Meyer and Albertsons. WalMart offers cheap goods — predominantly made in China — and have created a business model that serves to out-compete nearby businesses. We fail to see how undercutting good neighbors such as Albertsons and Fred Meyer would be in the best interest of Hillsboro or its citizens. And for those who want to shop at WalMart, there is already one located in Cornelius, just about nine miles from the Cornelius Pass Road/Baseline intersection.

WalMart’s Sequoia Village would come with a significant societal cost to local residents, and at some point, the city needs to say “No.” For a variety of reasons, we believe this project is a prime opportunity to do just that.



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