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A Snag In Walmart’s Expansion

Sonora, CA – Walmart’s plan to expand its Sonora store by 30,000 feet to build a 24 hour “Supercenter” grocery section has hit a road block.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal overturned a Tuolumne County Superior Court ruling rejecting the Tuolumne Jobs and Small Business Alliance group’s argument that Sonora cannot exempt Walmart from project review requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) without voter approval.

Sonora City Administrator Tim Miller had this reaction to the ruling, “As a planner, to me, the ruling came as a surprise. It is not consistent with the CEQA guidelines. Nor is it consistent with other court decisions in regards to how CEQA applies to initiatives.”  Miller adds, “I will be reviewing that decision with the city attorney who will be discussing it with the Walmart representatives and then we will determine what the best course of action is.”

The Tuolumne Jobs and Small Business Alliance says it is against Walmart’s expansion because  it will hurt union-wage grocery jobs in the area and shut down local businesses.

In the meantime, Miller is looking at all the options going forward saying, “The decision could be appealed to the California Supreme Court and could be remanded back to the Tuolumne County Superior Court and it could proceed to trial. Also, Walmart may elect to reconsider how they’re obtaining their entitlement approval.  I think those are all options that are available and there may be other options to consider.” He adds, “This is just a delay this is not done and over with at all.”

There is no date scheduled for the next hearing.