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Judge Halts Walmart’s Burbank Plans

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Retail giant Walmart suffered a setback in Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday when Judge Allan J. Goodman ruled that Burbank’s city government improperly greenlighted Walmart’s plans to put a store in the sprawling Empire Center shopping complex.

Goodman, according to the Burbank Leader, “citing street improvements more than a dozen years overdue and a flawed environmental impact report, [said] that the city of Burbank must rescind building permits it issued to Walmart.”

Walmart had planned to open an outlet (which would include a grocery store) in an old Great Indoors space next year, but three Burbank residents filed a suit to block that plan. (The Empire Center, which sits on former Lockheed property, already includes a Target and Lowe’s, and a Costco is located adjacent to the center.)

City News Service reported that the plaintiffs contended “that having a Walmart at the site would violate a zoning law banning grocery stores in the center. They also maintained the location lacks required parking and that the city failed to complete traffic mitigation required by law in order to relieve congestion and gridlock.”

Last week the Burbank Leader editorialized against Walmart’s project, citing unfinished road repairs being made nearby:

“Given the fact that the carpool lane and bridge realignment project likely won’t be finished until early 2015, the Walmart delay probably isn’t a bad thing. There’s little doubt that if a new Walmart were to open adjacent to an already cramped Empire Center served by a horribly constrained Scott Road, the impact to traffic and public patience would be furiously negative.”

After Goodman’s ruling, plaintiff Shanna Ingalsbee was quoted by City News Service as praising the judge’s decision as evidence that “giant corporations like Walmart need to play by the rules just like every other resident and business in Burbank.”

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