Wal-Mart Distribution Center Approved

September 29, 2009 7:38:58 AM PDT
Supporters of a controversial Wal-Mart Distribution Center are celebrating after Merced city leaders finally said "yes" to the project. But opponents say their fight isn't over yet.The Wal-Mart Distribution Center has been studied for years and debated for months. Now the massive warehouse is one step closer to reality. The facility would be built near Kibby Road and Childs Avenue in Southeast Merced.

The bottom line for the city council was all about jobs.

The Merced City Council voted to approve the Wal-Mart Distribution Center by a 6 to 1 vote. Wal-Mart's promise of a thousand jobs carried the day.

"This is a great project. How in good conscience can any of us sit up here in this economy with the unemployment we have and tell folks they're not entitled to have the opportunity to apply for?" said City Council Member Bill Spriggs.

The one lone vote against the project came from Mayor Pro Tem John Carlisle who is afraid Wal-Mart won't live up to its promises. "I'd like to believe all the promises and stories of being a good neighbor. That's not necessarily been the case."

Opponents of the project felt the council ignored the health impacts from air pollution from 600 diesel trucks coming and going from the center each day

"I'm not surprised but disappointed hoping our city fathers would be more interested in protecting the health and welfare of this community," said Wal-Mart opponent Tom Grave.

Wal-Mart is of course pleased with the council's vote and hoping to start work within 18 months but remains wary of potential lawsuits over those environmental concerns.

"There's a number of potential hurdles we'll have to clear depending on this appeal period," said Wal-Mart spokesperson Aaron Rios.

People opposed can file appeals over the next 30 days, and that can tie things up for awhile. Wal-Mart said once they clear all the hurdles it'll take a few years to get the project built and people actually hired.

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