Sonora, CA — Walmart and the Sonora City Council won a victory in a lawsuit challenging the retailer’s superstore.
As reported yesterday, the court, in a 17-page ruling, found the city acted within the law in 2010 when it waived an environmental review requirement to allow for a grocery store expansion. An earlier California appellate court ruling had found that an environmental study should have been conducted as part of the initiative process.
“It’s always nice to know we didn’t make any mistakes,” says Sonora Mayor Ron Stern. “As far as the city goes we do pretty well with them with the sales tax revenue, which is something we need to exist.”
Domenic Torchia, who played a role in bringing the lawsuit, fears it will hurt business.
“I was looking out for the employees of Tuolumne County who are just going to get murdered by this thing, especially grocery employees. It’s pathetic, it’s sad.”
In 2010, the City Council approved the project after supporters gathered the needed 10% of Sonora registered voter’s signatures for a special election. Torchia claims it is a loophole Walmart has been using across the country to build its superstores. He now threatens to use that same loophole to stop the project.
“A section of the Supreme Court decision says that within 30 days people who want to are entitled to put the decision before the voters and not just slide it under the table. We have the right to gather 10% of signatures [opposing the project] just like they did initially. The City Council will either have to withdraw or they’ll have to put it on the ballot.”
Torchia admits he has not talked to legal counsel about whether this challenge will hold up in court. However, he is confident he could get those signatures in a matter of days.