Wal-Mart Distribution Center and Environmental Impact Report

Supreme Court ruling favors City (March 13, 2013)

The State Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the City of Merced in a case dealing with a planned Wal-Mart Distribution Center. The State Supreme Court has decided not to hear an appeal of a Fifth District Court of Appeal decision that found no problems with the City’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project.

The plaintiffs in the case were three City residents and the Merced Alliance for Responsible Growth. They claimed the document did not adequately assess the project’s impacts on air quality, hydrology and water quality, traffic, urban decay, visual impacts, and greenhouse gases and global climate change. The plaintiffs also took issue with some of the processes the City used in creating the EIR.

The City also won the initial case in Superior Court brought by MARG and others.

Wal-Mart plans to build a 1.2 million square-foot warehouse and distribution center on Childs Avenue in the University Industrial Park. The site is on land zoned for industrial use near the Mission Interchange.

The center would initially employ about 600 people and ultimately it could employ 1,200 workers. It is expected that the 1,200 Wal-Mart Center jobs could lower the County’s jobless rate of 14.7 percent by a full percentage point.

The City has worked on the project since 2002 and in particular, Development Services staff began working on the environmental review process in 2006. The City did not offer any financial subsidy, relief, property tax rebates, fee waivers, sales tax rebates or tax-free land for the project.  Wal-Mart is paying all of the required fees, which are expected to be approximately $3 million. Area schools are expected to receive more than $400,000 in fees from the Wal-Mart project.

The center would operate 24-hours a day, 7-days a week and generate an estimated 450 truck trips into and out of the facility each day. The trucks will leave from one of the two gates on Gerard Avenue, going to the Campus Parkway and then onto Highway 99.

Court of Appeal rules in favor of City in Wal-Mart case (November 29, 2012)

The Fifth District Court of Appeal has ruled in favor of the City of Merced in a case dealing with a planned Wal-Mart Distribution Center. The Fresno Court’s unanimous decision found no problems with the City’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project.  (See below to download a copy of the Court's ruling.)

The plaintiffs in the case were three City residents and the Merced Alliance for Responsible Growth. They claimed the document did not adequately assess the project’s impacts on air quality, hydrology and water quality, traffic, urban decay, visual impacts, and greenhouse gases and global climate change. The plaintiffs also took issue with some of the processes the City used in creating the EIR.

The City also won the initial case in Superior Court brought by MARG and others.

Wal-Mart plans to build a 1.2 million square-foot warehouse and distribution center on Childs Avenue in the University Industrial Park. The site is on land zoned for industrial use near the Mission Interchange.

The center would initially employ about 600 people and ultimately it could employ 1,200 workers. It is expected that the 1,200 Wal-Mart Center jobs could lower the County’s jobless rate of 14.7 percent by a full percentage point.

The City has worked on the project since 2002. The City did not offer any financial subsidy, relief, property tax rebates, fee waivers, sales tax rebates or tax-free land for the project.  Wal-Mart is paying all of the required fees, which are expected to be approximately $3 million. Area schools are expected to receive more than $400,000 in fees from the Wal-Mart project.

The center would operate 24-hours a day, 7-days a week and generate an estimated 450 truck trips into and out of the facility each day. The trucks will leave from one of the two gates on Gerard Avenue, going to the Campus Parkway and then onto Highway 99.


JUDGE SIDES WITH CITY IN WAL-MART CASE (March 2011)

The City of Merced complied with all of the California Environmental Quality Act requirements when it approved the proposed Wal-Mart Distribution Center, according to the judge who reviewed the case.  

Read his opinion in the attached document below (please scroll down the page to the "01a-Wal-Mart Legal Case" section).    NOTE:  An appeal was subsequently filed and the case is now in the appeals court (March 2012).

CITY COUNCIL APPROVES WALMART PROJECT (September 2009)

City Council Public Hearing:    After a public hearing that extended over four days and nights (September 21, 23, 26, and 28), the City Council on September 28, 2009 approved the construction of the Wal-mart Distribution Center.  The City Council voted 6-1 (6 ayes, 1 no) to certify the project EIR, to approve the General Plan Amendment, to approve the Abandonment of Kibby Road, and to approve the Site Plan Review application.  The City Council, by a 7-0 vote (7 ayes), voted to deny the appeal filed by the Merced Alliance for Responsible Growth (MARG) regarding some of the Planning Commission's actions on the project.  The final approved resolutions and the developer agreement can be downloaded from the folder below marked "City Council Hearing Materials."  Copies of the Administrative Report and the Staff Responses to the letters submitted by MARG at the final hearings can also be downloaded from the same folder as can the letters from MARG.  The supporting exhibits referred to in the Staff Responses and the MARG letters are available upon request from the Planning Division by calling (209) 385-6858.  A copy of the Notice of Determination for the EIR filed with the County Clerk's office on September 29, 2009 can also be downloaded below.

Planning Commission Recommendation:    The City Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed Wal-Mart project on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 (and continued to Monday, August 24, 2009).  After the conclusion of the public testimony, the Planning Commission voted 7-0 to recommend approval to the City Council of the Environmental Impact Report, the General Plan Amendment, and the finding of General Plan consistency for the Abandonment of the Kibby Road right-of-way.  The Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend approval of the Site Plan Review Application.  A copy of the Planning Commission resolution can be found at the following link with details of their actions.  Other materials for the Planning Commission meeting can be found by using the following links and scrolling down to the meeting date (see the agenda and staff report , including the staff presentation and letters received on the project).  Copies of the meeting materials can also be found for download in the folder below marked "Planning Commission Hearing Materials," including the minutes and resolution.

Proposed Project:    The Project includes consideration of General Plan Amendment #06-01 and Vacation/Abandonment Application #06-01 for a change in the General Plan Circulation Element and the abandonment of the right-of-way for Kibby Road (a designated collector) between Childs and Gerard Avenues, Site Plan Review Application #260, and the certification of an environmental impact report regarding the Project.  The project involves the construction of a regional distribution center (approximately 1.1 million square feet, operating 24 hours per day, and employing approximately 1,200 employees) and associated facilities on approximately 230 acres, generally located at the northwest corner of Gerard Avenue and Tower Road. 

Final EIR Availability:    EDAW, under contract with the City of Merced, completed a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the proposed Wal-Mart Distribution Center.    The FEIR contains copies of all the written comments received on the Draft EIR during the 60-day public comment period (from February 25, 2009 to April 27, 2009) and the City’s responses to those comments as well as any minor modifications to the text of the Draft EIR.  The Final EIR is available on CD-Rom with the first copy available free of charge to any individual or group (there will be a $5 reproduction cost for each additional CD) .  Printed copies are available on request for a reproduction cost of $145 (in two volumes) for the Final EIR.  Copies of the Draft EIR are still available as described below.  All the documents, including the Draft EIR, Technical Appendices, and Final EIR are available for download belowThe Final EIR can be found under the section below entitled "01-Final EIR for Wal-Mart Project," starting on Thurs. July 30, 2009.  The FEIR may be downloaded in two large files (one for each volume), which may take awhile to download, or in separate smaller files for specific sections of the FEIR.  The FEIR is also available for viewing at the City Clerk’s office and the Planning Division office at 678 West 18th Street, Merced during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.mThe Draft EIR is available at the same locations.

 Copies of the Draft EIR:    All persons interested in obtaining printed copies of the DEIR and Technical Appendices for a reproduction cost of $45 each are invited to contact the Merced City Planning Division at the address indicated above.  The first copy of the DEIR and Technical Appendices on CD-ROM is available free of charge to any individual or group (there will be a $5 reproduction cost for each additional CD) or the documents may be downloaded from the City’s website below.  (The complete documents are available in one large file which may take a while to download or individual chapters may be downloaded separately.)

01a-Wal-Mart Legal Case

01b--City Council Hearing Materials

01c-Planning Commission Hearing Materials

02d-2007 Letters(11.52 MB)

01d-Final EIR for Wal-Mart Project

02-Comment Letters Received on Draft EIR

03-Wal-Mart Draft EIR

04-Wal-Mart Draft EIR Technical Appendices

05-Wal-Mart EIR (Notice of Preparation-2006)

06-Wal-Mart Site Plan Committee Meeting-April 23, 2009