MERCED — City planning officials soon should have the final report that states how the proposed Wal-Mart distribution center will change the city.
EDAW, the consultant writing the massive environmental review, is scheduled to turn over the final draft July 6 for city staff and attorneys to proofread.
It had offered a deadline of July 1, though it was revised Thursday.
After any changes are made, the project, first proposed in 2005, will head to the Merced Planning Commission and City Council.
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Wal-Mart plans to build a 1.1 million-square-foot distribution center on 230 acres between Childs and Gerard avenues. Supporters point to the new full-time jobs — 600 when the center opens and 900 after a year of operation — as the reason the project is essential for a community with an unemployment rate of 17 percent.
Opponents think the center is a bad idea, citing the added traffic on Highway 99 from big rigs and the poor air quality. (Wal-Mart has said its fleet will be green. Opponents worry that most of the trucks will be owned by contractors and not be clean-burning.)
The timeline for a vote on the project remains tentative, though it could be as early as September, Merced Planning Manager Kim Espinosa said Wednesday.
The project must first go before the Planning Commission, which will offer a recommendation to the City Council.
Merced must put up public notice of all meetings in advance. If Wal-Mart's project were to go before the commission Aug. 19the center could then be before the council Sept. 21.
The draft environmental report, mandated by state law for large projects, was released in February for 60 days of public comment.
After about 300 letters of support, opposition and lingering questions, the report went back for revision.
EDAW is required to address all the questions raised. Residents will be able to give their thoughts about the project during the public hearings before the commission and council.