Enough is enough. After nearly seven years of public hearings, environmental studies, a failed ballot measure and, more recently, a lawsuit challenging Atascadero’s approval of a Walmart, it’s time to move forward.
A local Superior Court judge has issued a preliminary ruling that upholds the city’s approval of the project. We urge Save Atascadero, a citizens group that’s opposed Walmart from day one — to end this legal battle, especially since the remaining issues are so narrowly focused.
One of the arguments, for instance, concerns the release of a two-page risk assessment about potential cancer-causing air pollutants that could be generated by additional traffic, including diesel delivery trucks. The assessment was not included in an environmental impact report on time, but according to the city, it was made available to the public upon request. The city also says that the report from the Air Pollution Control District concluded that the risk that would be posed by additional traffic would be less than significant.
The tardy release of a two-page report hardly constitutes a solid reason to order another round of study, which is what opponents are seeking.
That said, we don’t mean to belittle the legitimate concerns that have been raised about the project, some of which we have shared.
For example, last year we opposed the City Council’s decision to front $2 million to pay for traffic improvements. We believed then, and we continue to believe, that Walmart should foot the entire bill.
At this point, though, we don’t believe further scrutiny or renegotiating will be productive; instead, it will simply rack up more attorneys’ and consultants’ fees. It also will delay bringing needed jobs and sales tax revenue to the city of Atascadero.
Again, enough is enough.
It’s obvious to us that the people of Atascadero want Walmart, or they would not have elected a City Council that unanimously supported the project. Nor would 68 percent of Atascadero voters have defeated a 2008 ballot measure that sought to limit the square footage of big-box stores.
It’s time to allow Walmart to move forward. It’s time for the citizens of Atascadero to put this divisive issue behind them.