Walmart Expansion: Goliath Meet David

In today’s Kitsap Sun you’ll see a story about a well-known local couple’s six-year fight to mitigate effects on their neighborhood of a planned expansion of the Bethel Avenue Walmart store.

Bill and Mary Ann Huntington, Westsound Utility District commissioner and former Port of Bremerton commission respectively, won sweeping concessions from the mega-corp, which scaled back its plans and added costly measures to reduce the amount of noise and light produced on the site.

Bill Huntington said he and his wife never used their public positions to advantage during the more than six-year legal battle. Having been in business themselves, the Huntingtons are not trying to stand in the way of progress, Bill said.

The expansion, which will turn the place into a Walmart Supercenter with grocery section, will add 50 to 100 positions to the current staff of 200, a company spokeswoman said. She also noted the whopping sales tax revenue poured into local coffers from the big box store.

Bill was wary, however, and is taking a wait and see attitude toward Walmart. “I hope they’re good neighbors,” he said.

The Huntington’s attorney Ryan Vancil, who has handled other Walmart cases, said the couple’s victory was unprecedented in his career. Typically, he said, “You’re fighting the largest retail corporation in the world. You can see the writing on the wall. … Typically, they can come in and out-expert you and out-spend you on attorneys. I would consider it a significant victory.”

The chink in Walmart’s armor, according to Vancil was the expert they initially brought in to testify about noise levels. The county’s hearing examiner deemed the Huntington’s expert more credible. Walmart ultimately got a new expert.

County officials confirmed what Vancil had to say about the noise expert. Once Walmart saw it was over a fence, however, the company was prompt, complete and clear in its dealings with the county, said senior planner Jeff Smith.

Smith noted the lengths to which Walmart went to redesign its building in better keeping with the Bethel Corridor Plan, with more pedestrian friendly areas and some nice architectural details. The company also came up with a noise mitigation plan that took advantage of the natural topography and so helped for the most part hide delivery areas at the back of the store from the neighbors’ view. The residents’ view of the Olympics won’t be marred either.

In a major concession, Walmart agreed to stop nighttime deliveries, and, according to Jeff Smith, that goes into effect as soon at the hearing examiner give the green light to the project, which it appears he will.

Construction on the store wouldn’t start until 2011.

The Walmart spokeswoman said South Kitsap has been chomping at the bit for a Supercenter. So where do you stand on Walmart?
a. I can’t wait for the Supercenter to open. They have really inexpensive groceries.
b. I shop at Walmart, but I wear a bag over my head.
c. The day I set foot in that store just shoot me.

5 thoughts on “Walmart Expansion: Goliath Meet David

  1. A, for me.

    I make a bi-monthly trek to Poulsbo with my wife and save about $250 a month in groceries doing this.

    I’m very opposed to the battle these two “public figures” fought — you buy a house near a wal*mart (or other retail store) and you should be aware of possible expansion.

  2. Now and then I pick up a few things at Walmart. I’m not ashamed, but I stop at other smaller stores too.

    I’ve walked through one Walmart food center. I was unimpressed with the selection and quality.

    I will continue to buy groceries at other more local options, and hop that most people do the same.

  3. [i]I will continue to buy groceries at other more local options, and hop that most people do the same.[/i]

    Why do you concern yourself with where other people get their groceries?

  4. I may live in Bremerton but I work here in Poulsbo. I have the best of both worlds.

    A couple of times a month I hit the WalMart Super Center during my lunch hour for frozen foods, canned goods, crackers, beverages and dairy items. I save a money by doing this. On the other hand I find their meat department to be marginal and avoid the low quality poor tasting produce section completely and instead hit Central Market for Meat and Produce along with a few specialty items I enjoy indulging in on occasion.

  5. The last time I shopped at Walmart was about five years ago. They had an outdoor ‘fire chimney’ on sale and a helpful clerk got help to load it up and wheeled it out by the cash registers until I was finished shopping for plants.
    I finished shopping and wheeled my cart alongside the aisle by the register and waited to check out. The customer already checking out took an amazing time but finally finished and wheeled her cart toward the exit door. I rolled my cart ahead and almost collided with a women on the other side of the isle. I glanced behind her to a long line of people waiting as she angrily said I had to go to the back of the line. She apparently thought I was trying to cut in on a very, very long line of people I didn’t even know was there, hidden on the other side of the loaded display isle.

    I waited long enough to see it would be a very long wait and reluctantly pushed my cart out of the way and walked away from it and the fire chimney waiting for me by the check out counter .

    Life is too short to waste standing in a long line waiting for inefficient and slow cashiers.

    Costco has great prices on quality products and efficient, fast cashiers.

    My final on line order from Walmart was a few years ago. When the order arrived, two boxes reeked of cigarette smoke, including the packing material. I choked and had the boxes moved back outside.

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