Appeal Court upholds plan for Merced Wal-Mart distribution center

jsmith@mercedsunstar.comNovember 29, 2012 

The 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno ruled in favor of the city of Merced on Thursday, rejecting a lawsuit that sought to block construction of a Wal-Mart Distribution Center planned for the city.

In light of the decision, the city expects the project to move forward in the near future, said City Attorney Greg Diaz.

"We're ecstatic with the outcome,” he said “There was years of work that went into this. If I weren't in a public office, I'd say break out the Champagne. All of us are looking forward to the project breaking ground and getting people in the community back to work."

The Merced Alliance for Responsible Growth filed the legal challenge to the city's California Environmental Quality Act review of the project.

“I’ll have to let it sink in,” said local resident Kyle Stockard, a lead plaintiff in the case. “Nothing surprises me anymore. We’ll see what we can do at the next level.”

In response to the initial lawsuit in 2010, a Merced Superior Court sided with the city. The alliance filed an appeal the follow year, insisting the city had not properly studied the project’s potential impact on air quality, traffic and city wells.

The group can appeal to the State Supreme Court, which has discretion over whether to hear the case. The court hears only a small percentage of cases filed.

Wal-mart has signaled it will break ground only after all litigation has been resolved.

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