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Council gets earful from group opposed to Walmart

With council chambers packed, 25 residents say they don't want to see the retailer locate in Sherwood


by: RAY PITZ - Sherwood residents packed the Sherwood City Council chambers Tuesday night to express opposition to the proposed Walmart store.During a lengthy and sometimes emotional meeting Tuesday night, residents expressed in no uncertain terms their displeasure with Walmart moving into Sherwood.

For more than two hours, residents packed into a standing-room-only Sherwood City Council chambers told the council they were opposed to the construction of a 145,000-square-foot Walmart superstore planned for Langer Farms Parkway.

And the 25 who testified (in the presence of cameras from three Portland television stations) against the planned store, minced no words regarding why they were against the retail giant moving in.

With word confirmed only Monday that Walmart would be the anchor tenant in the newly dubbed Sherwood Town Center shopping complex, news spread quickly through social media, which urged residents to attend Tuesday’s meeting.

“Walmart is kind of the worst picture of what America is today,” local musician and resident Amanda Stanaway told the council. “It’s really disappointing.”

Disappointment and anger that the public wasn’t informed that the box store, slated to open sometime in 2014, was a sentiment echoed by others in attendance. The size of the crowd who came to testify was the largest in the last four to five years, according to several observers.

“We do not need another big-box store, especially Walmart,” said Lori Stevens, another resident.

While the reasons for opposition varied, most cited low wages paid by retailer, the effects the store would have on smaller city businesses and concerns that residents had been “sold out” by not being told of plans to build the store here. Several suggested they would have liked to see a Trader Joe’s or any other venture other than Walmart.

Many blamed Matt Langer, a Sherwood City Council member whose family owns the property where Gramor Development will build the store on a 20-acre site, for not giving residents a clear heads up about who the new anchor would be until yesterday.

In addition to Walmart, up to 20 other merchants and restaurants will make up the complex. Groundbreaking is expected at the end of next month.

The meeting contained only one vocal supporter. Richard Rementeria, who said he was in support of the Langers, longtime Sherwood residents who have been here since it was a “bump in the road.”

Rementeria said that he didn’t think people would have been as upset if the store was a Fred Meyer, “but I think maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on our fellow citizens.”

Dean Boswell warned of possible gang activity that he’s seen in another local community if the superstore is built.

Others wanted to confront Walmart officials directly.

“Is there a representative from Walmart here tonight because that’s who we need to address tonight,” said Peter Sternkopf.

Sherwood resident Trish Goldstein was more specific in her opposition.

“I think a lot of people here think they’ve been sold out to a certain degree,” she said about not being told of plans for the store before it was too late.

Goldstein said when her mother-in-law, who was a Walmart employee in Arizona, got cancer, the retailer tried to cut her benefits. According to Goldstein, her mother-in-law was then forced to retire.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to keep Walmart from coming,” Sherwood resident Lori Randel promised.

Others even suggested still changing the zoning where the new store will be sited even if it meant facing legal challenges.

“Put in the skate park folks have always wanted,” said Wade Anderson, who is on a committee examining what part of the city should be included in the Metro-mandated Town Center plan (not to be confused with the Walmart shopping complex that also bears the Town Center name).

In the end, residents wanted to know what they could still do to prevent the project from moving forward.

Councilor Langer told those gathered that he appreciated their input and that the Walmart planned for the site was different from the company’s other stores. Langer also said that his family had tried to contact Trader Joe’s but never heard back from them and that the site was too big for an anchor of that size.

“I really thank Matt for showing up,” said Mayor Bill Middleton. “That took some courage there.”

Councilor Bill Butterfield said the council planned to look at the issue and “come to some kind of resolution.”

by: COURTESY OF GRAMOR DEVELOPMENT - Here's an aerial view of how the Sherwood Town Center will look like. The roundabout in the foreground is Century Drive and Langer Farms Parkway. The northeast corner of the complex will contain a water feature and an outdoor plaza is planned as well.Councilor Krisanna Clark said like many residents, she too did not want to see Walmart in Sherwood.

“Is there something we can do?” she asked. “I don’t know.”

The city plans to update residents on its website regarding how the land-use process for the shopping complex progressed and whether public forums will be held. Visit www.sherwoodoregon.gov.

To read background regarding approval by the Sherwood Planning Commission last fall and another link speculating about what the new big box store could be click here.




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