City staff are working to set a time, date and place for the Tehachapi City Council to hear an appeal of the Planning Commission's Dec. 9 approval of the proposed Walmart project, according to Community Development Director David James.
The commission voted 3-2 to allow the project to move forward, and approved a revised environmental impact report. The decision has been appealed by Tehachapi First, which also raised concerns during the public hearing held prior to the commission's vote.
Two of the five commissioners voted in opposition. Sonja Wilson and Marisa Folse cited inconsistent or incomplete data in the final draft of the revised EIR as reasons not to move forward.
Tehachapi First, a local organization that opposes Walmart, was represented at the Dec. 9 meeting by Henry Shaeffer and Christopher Zehnder. Zehnder asked the commissioners whether they had received a letter from the group's attorney, Mark Wolfe, which asked them to postpone a decision to allow more time for community members to review the finalized draft of the revised EIR.
The final draft was released for public review on Thursday, Dec. 5, just four days before the public hearing. "The [Final EIR] contains dozens of changes to the revised draft EIR and more than 100 pages of comment response and new analysis," the letter states. "It is unreasonable to expect the public to review and digest such a large volume of new material in so short a period of time."
"Our lawyer believes [there are] grounds to appeal," Zehnder said in a phone interview. "The initial assessment is that the EIR is still deficient."
Efforts to reach Tehachapi First's attorneys prior to deadline for this edition were unsuccessful.
See next week's paper for more about the appeal.