On Wednesday, Judge Richard T. Okrent dismissed an appeal filed by the nonprofit group Friends of North Kelsey. He ruled that Monroe followed its own guidelines to develop 24 acres on N. Kelsey Street.
Friends of North Kelsey argued Wal-Mart didn't fit with what the city envisioned for the area under the N. Kelsey Development Plan. Among other things, the group argued the store would not make the area pedestrian friendly and a community gathering spot, as called for in the plan.
Okrent said the city's plan called for the gathering area to be on the south side, not on the north side, were Wal-Mart wants to build. At the same time, the store likely will bring economic vitality to the city which is also another goal, the judge said.
"There is nothing in the development plan that makes one goal more exclusive than the other," Okrent said.
There ruling was met with dismay by members of the Friends of North Kelsey group.
"I'm totally shocked and disappointed for what this means to the future of Monroe," group founder Diane Elliott said.
Friends of North Kelsey filed the lawsuit in May. Up to November, Monroe spent $17,470 in legal fees defending its decisions, city's finance director Dianne Nelson said.
No date has been set for Wal-Mart to start construction on its 156,000-square-foot store, spokeswoman Jennifer Spall said.
"We are thrilled that the court agreed with us and the city. We are now able to move forward with our project," she said.
Wal-Mart became a hot issue in Monroe since the chain store announced its interest in building more than a year ago. Council meetings were filled with people voicing opinions about the store. Opponents worried about traffic problems and tough times for downtown businesses. Proponents focused on tax revenue and about 300 new jobs.
The council approved a development agreement with Wal-Mart in March. The city in December 2010 sold the property where the retail chain will build for $7.5 million to Seattle-based Sabey Corp.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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