Wal-Mart's bid to expand its store here into a
Supercenter is headed to court after an
environmental group sued to block the plan last
Antioch's approval of a
33,575-square-foot expansion of the Lone Tree Way
store in September violates its own municipal code
and state environmental law, representatives from a
coalition of environmental and labor groups said in
a suit filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court.
The suit, filed by
California Healthy Communities Network, will delay
the company's plan to bring its first Supercenter
store featuring a full-service grocery to the East
Bay. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is responsible for all
city legal costs in the suit.
City Attorney Lynn Tracy
Nerland could not be reached for comment Monday.
Council members said they
were not surprised by the suit.
Angie Stoner, a Wal-Mart
spokeswoman, said the company is frustrated.
"At a time when the city is
facing potential bankruptcy and record unemployment
rates, it is troubling to see, yet again,
out-of-town special interest groups abusing the
(environmental) process," she said.
The area surrounding the
store has undergone substantial change since the
environmental documents for Williamson Ranch Plaza
were approved in 1998, according to the lawsuit.
As a result, Antioch should
have prepared a subsequent environmental study that
addresses new issues and changes to the severity of
other issues, mainly the
proposed expansion's effect on
local grocers in the trade area, said Phil Tucker,
the group's project director.
Antioch's general plan also
requires leaders to consider imposing reasonable
conditions on approvals to protect public health and
City leaders ignored
substantial evidence from three months of public
meetings showing that the approval of the expansion
would harm public health and welfare, according to
The City Council's approval
Sept. 28 was a reversal of its initial decision to
deny the project on the grounds that an
environmental study for the project underestimated
the potential effects on the area's economy.
The council based the
approval in part on a state appellate court decision
this year involving a San Diego redevelopment
project that raised questions about a city's ability
to consider possible environmental effects when
looking at a design review application.
Attorneys for Wal-Mart and
an attorney retained by the city argued that an
environmental study was not required to approve the
The council did what was
legally required, Councilwoman Martha Parsons said
"The process to approve this
project was legally defective," he said. "We believe
the original decision of the council, before city
staff intervened, was appropriate and correct."
Wal-Mart has been trying for
six years to expand its Antioch store to include a
bakery, produce section and full-service deli.
The City Council narrowly
defeated a larger expansion plan in 2007.
No scheduled court date for
the lawsuit has been set.