Referendum On Wal•Mart In Apple Valley Tuesday

(November 15)  APPLE VALLEY –The town of Apple Valley will hold a referendum next Tuesday on Wal•Mart’s proposal to put in one of its superstores at the corner of Dale Evans Parkway and Thunderbird Road.
A yes vote on Measure D will give go-ahead to the project, resulting in the shuttering of Wal•Mart’s existing store on Highway 18.
Mail ballots have already gone out to Apple Valley voters. Polls will open at 7 a.m. on Nov. 19.
After a vocal opposition to the new store formed, Wal•Mart sponsored the formation of a committee to stump for the new project’s approval, known as Apple Valley Consumers for Choice, in late 2010. City officials, who believe the new store will boost the city’s sales tax receipts, are supporting Measure D. They have been able to sustain a brisk campaign designed to convince town residents the new store will be advantageous to the community largely on the strength of $715,000 provided to the committee by the Wal•Mart Corporation since February 2011.
The committee, and Wal•Mart, working through the law firm of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk have put up $50,000 toward defraying the town’s costs for holding the election.
Wal•Mart and its supporters are intent on holding the election – despite its costs – because voter approval may prove key to the development proposal reaching fruition. The project runs counter to the town’s current general plan and it will border a residential area. As such, it would be potentially vulnerable to a lawsuit that would contest its presence as being incompatible with nearby uses.
An attorney with offices in Upland and San Diego, Corey Briggs, has had considerable success in stymieing or delaying Wal•Mart projects in a number of Southern California cities, challenging them both on environmental grounds relating to the California Environmental Quality Act as well as their inconsistencies with several of those cities’ general plans.
Briggs made a showing in Apple Valley more than two years ago when he contested the town’s tentative approval of the Supercenter.
Nevertheless, the opposition to the new Apple Valley Wal•Mart, while significant in terms of numbers, its vociferousness and dedication, lags well behind the project proponents and its supporters in terms of marshaling monetary and political support.
The committee that was organized to oppose the Apple Valley Wal•Mart Supercenter, Citizens for Smart Growth, did not register with the California Secretary of State until September. The group has less than $1,000 in its coffers, meaning it can put out very little in the way of mailers or ads in opposition to Measure D.
Wal•Mart, working through Apple Valley Consumers for Choice, collected more than the 5,700 signatures to qualify Measure D for the ballot, an indicator that opponents may have a tough row to hoe in stopping the project.

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