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Friday, Jun 28 2013 02:50 PM

City to release revised EIR on proposed Walmart

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Artist's rendition of the proposed Tehachapi Walmart.

Just more than a year after Kern County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Twisselman ruled that the City of Tehachapi must revisit portions of its Draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed Walmart project, the city announced the report’s completion.

Beginning Monday, July 1, the Final EIR will be available for review by the general public. Residents can read the document at either City Hall, 115 S. Robinson St., or the Kern County Library-Tehachapi, 1101 W. Tehachapi Blvd.

Tehachapi First, an organization formed by residents opposed to the inclusion of a Walmart store in the Tehachapi area, challenged the Draft EIR after its release in June 2011. In his June 2012 ruling — a whole year after the petition was filed — Twisselman ordered the city to set aside its initial approval of the EIR and of the project. The judge concurred with the plantiffs, finding that the city’s environmental research on three of the presented 24 areas contained insufficient evidence. As a result, the city was told to conduct additional research and prepare a second EIR to include the amended findings.

According to the city’s Notice of Availability released by community development head David James on Thursday, June 27, the three areas in which the judge found insufficient evidence are: cumulative water impacts, cumulative off-site traffic noise and cumulative traffic impacts.

Because Twisselman did not find deficiencies in any other portions of the Prior EIR, any concerns raised on those other portions do not have to be addressed by the city, according to James.

If someone were to claim that the building project would put an endangered species in jeopordy, James said, using an example, then the city does not have to do an additional revision of the EIR to include research into the claim.

“That ship has sailed,” James said.

Local agencies and the public have 45 days to review the document and submit comments, which works out to be Aug. 12. Comments can be submitted to James through the Community Development Department in City Hall.

Once the 45-day period closes, James will present the Revised EIR to the city’s Planning Commission, who will then vote on whether to re-approve the project and approve the new EIR. James estimated this meeting would take place sometime in August or September.

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