Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wal-Mart gets nod in Suisun


By Danny Bernardini/Vacaville Reporter

Although their decision is only advisory, the Suisun City Planning Commission unanimously voted Tuesday night in favor of a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The commissioners voted 7-0 that they were satisfied that the environmental documents associated with the proposed store on Walters Road near Highway 12 sufficiently addressed any concerns they had.

The City of Suisun City Council now will consider the issue in a meeting set for Feb. 12. That meeting will decide whether or not the council will override a decision by the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission, also advisory, which voted against the project.

The council would need an approval vote of at least 4-1, for four-fifths, to override the land-use group's decision. Because of this aspect, Suisun City Attorney Sky Woodruff explained, the planners' decision would be only advisory.

The proposal for the Wal-Mart on a 20.8-acre site near Highway 12 and Walters Road includes 230,000 square feet of commercial space including a 215,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter building, plus a fuel station with mini-mart, an 8,000-square-foot sit-down restaurant or commercial-use site and parking.

The Wal-Mart proposal has become a hot-button issue among Suisun City residents, it was no different Tuesday night. Extra seating and speakers in the lobby of the government center were provided for the above-capacity crowd. The meeting featured more than two hours of public comment that at times prompted commission chairwoman Barbara Meyers to ask the crowd to quiet down.

Paul Greenlee, spokes-man for the citizens' group Suisun Alliance, said no matter what the environmental documents contained, a store like Wal-Mart and the problems it would bring was not right for the city.

"We can make the numbers match as long as we want," Greenlee said. "This is not about Wal-Mart; this is about our city. It does not fit the city. There's another one five minutes away if you want to enjoy it."

Suisun City resident Bill Sweet said the city needs the expected tax revenue to further improve the area.

"We need to face facts. We are a bedroom community," Sweet said. "We need it for the variety, but we really, really need it for the tax base. I would like to stay in Suisun to go shopping."

Few comments were made by commissioners after listening to presentations by city staff, environmental lawyers and Wal-Mart representatives. Some commissioners asked questions relating to traffic and design elements of the store, but refrained from speaking further on the issue.
Meyers did thank those who spoke for coming.

"Whether you are for or against the project, what you've done by coming together is what Suisun City is all about," she said. "We need to continue to support each other."

Suzanne Bragdon, city manager, echoed those statements.

"I want to thank everyone who came out tonight," Bragdon said after the meeting. "Public communication is what makes a community."

Danny Bernardini can be reached at

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