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Council approves zoning change.

Byline: Karen McCowan The Register-Guard

COTTAGE GROVE - In a unanimous vote Monday, the City Council made official its Aug. 13 approval of new zoning rules that would let Wal-Mart super-size its store.

As recommended by the city's planning staff then, the ordinance calls for a concession by Wal-Mart in exchange for increasing the maximum size of a "discount retail facility" in the city's commercial tourist zone to 150,000 square feet.

The ordinance requires Wal-Mart to complete 30,000 square feet of commercial space for other, smaller businesses along Row River Road before occupying its planned expansion.

Under terms of the city's 1994 approval of the current 80,000-square-foot store, the Arkansas-based retailer would have been able to occupy a maximum 105,000 square feet.

A Wal-Mart representative attending the meeting had no comment. The company has offered no formal objections to the unusual condition since its attorney, Greg Hathaway, questioned it Aug. 13.

Wal-Mart had already offered to make the frontage land, which it owns, available for smaller retail or restaurant development. But the company intended that its expanded store be completed first as a "catalyst" for other retail development, Hathaway said. He said the city's proposed timing could mean empty buildings along the tourist thoroughfare.

In a telephone interview last week, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jennifer Holder said the company was "very happy that they voted to approve the store," and added, "we're taking a look at the condition."

The City Council is scheduled to take a second and final vote on the zoning ordinance Sept. 10. Once that occurs, the new conditions would become law unless Wal-Mart requests a voter referendum on them within 30 days.

Cottage Grove residents who turned out for a series of public hearings on Wal-Mart's proposed expansion were sharply divided over the prospect of a superstore.

Some opposed any zoning rule changes to accommodate the discount retailer, citing Wal-Mart's anti-union activities, its pay and benefit policies, and its impact on smaller local businesses.

But others argued that the chain's discount groceries would be a welcome addition to Cottage Grove, particularly for low-income residents.
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Title Annotation:Government; Cottage Grove gives Wal-Mart approval to expand if it meets certain conditions, which the company will review
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 28, 2007
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