OPINION AND EDITORIAL
WHY ARE MONROE OFFICIALS BREAKING LAWS?
Ask local residents
March 23, 2012
Friends of North Kelsey took to Highway 2 at North Kelsey St. in Monroe in early March with signs in hand. Chronicle photo. CLICK TO ENLARGE
By Cheryl Smith & Diane Elliott
(MONROE, WA) -- When local people stand together to protect our community and develop a vision for our future, we can make a positive impact.
The plan our community developed for the North Kelsey site was a good example. Our city bought that property expressly to make sure it was developed in a way consistent with values of the development plan.
Unfortunately our local officials, including the Mayor Zimmerman, violated that agreement when they approved a proposed Walmart.
The violation of the law is why the original lawsuit was filed and the appeal is to challenge what we believe to be an unfair ruling by the County judge.
If Mayor Zimmerman is concerned about using tax dollars wisely (and we support that value wholeheartedly), we believe he should engage in activity that will help generate revenue instead of those which break the law and go against many of the requirements for construction in North Kelsey.
We are suing because laws that are there to protect our community are being broken.
Time and again, public testimony at city council meetings has highlighted concerns that, as proposed, the Walmart in Monroe will violate the law and the vision in the community plan.
A new big box Walmart will badly worsen already-congested traffic on major thoroughfares, threatens living-wage jobs already in our city, and raises concerns about impacts on local businesses and property values.
Earlier in March, we stood together, with family, friends and supporters on the corner of Kelsey and State Highway 2 to announce our appeal. Our message was clear. It is very important to be able to hold our local officials accountable and make sure that development honors our community’s vision for our future.
Years were spent putting together a development plan for this area, and they ignored it and approved a Walmart that was flat-out against the values laid out.
It is our hope that the State Court of Appeals sees the justice in our claim and requires a change in this proposed Walmart.
Local officials should not be able to change the rules at the expense of our community and quality of life.
We are taking legal action as far as we can to insure the best interest of our community is protected from those that will bend and break laws for their own gain.
We leave you with this question:
Is it right to allow one business to usurp nearly all we have to offer to interested builders because our city government was too shortsighted to consider all aspects of the issue?
Cheryl Smith and Diane Elliott are members of Friends of North Kelsey, a group of Monroe and other Sky Valley residents who oppose Walmart - or any big box retailer - being able to come into the community and dictate, with Monroe city officials complicit in the arrangement, the type and size of store it will place in the North Kelsey complex when community members long ago decided what they wanted and did not want in terms of retail and retailers in that location.
The North Kelsey plan as put together by the community at large specifically did not want a sprawling, prototypical chain operated big box discounter surrounded by a huge parking lot and dominating the area’s retail activity or the visual or physical space of the area. The facts are the community was explicit in that decision and directive.
The group has a Facebook page, No Walmart in Monroe, which can be found here