Wal-Mart Super Center: To be or not to be?


Staff Writer

As the Tractor Supply Company building continues to steadily approach completion, the question remains, where is the 92,000-square-foot Pagosa Springs Wal-Mart Super Center?

Because of the popular television show “The Big Bang Theory,” a thought experiment devised in 1935 by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger, which was the basis for the theory of quantum entanglement, has come to the awareness of the general public.

According to the scenario, a cat, a flask of poison connected to a radiation monitor, and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If the monitor detects any radiation it will release the poison and the cat will die.

According to quantum mechanics, since there is no way to know if or when the monitor will detect any radiation, as long as the box remains sealed the cat should be considered both alive and dead at the same time. It isn’t until the box is opened that a determination can be made either way. This poses the question of when exactly quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.

So it is with Wal-Mart.

“They will break ground in the spring,” town planner James Dickhoff assured SUN staff during an interview on Feb. 18, “and we haven’t heard anything different. As far as we know that’s still what they plan on doing.”

However, Dickhoff made the same assertion almost a year ago, and he admitted his department has not had any recent contact with Wal-Mart. The town is still waiting to issue its building permit because Wal-Mart has yet to turn in the required documentation and surety bond for Alpha Drive.

One of the conditions for allowing Wal-Mart to build its store on the corner of Alpha Drive and Aspen Village Drive is a promise by the corporation to improve Alpha Drive up to town standards. This would include paving the dirt road and installing a sidewalk, curb and gutter.

According to Dickhoff, Wal-Mart has already completed and turned in the engineering for those improvements and the town has approved the plans. However, the town still has not received the developer improvement agreement promising Wal-Mart will complete the work, nor the surety bond to guarantee the work gets done.

Wal-Mart also still needs to turn in its impact fee payments, Dickhoff added.

Two days later, at their Feb. 20 meeting, Dickhoff told town council he had just received word from Wal-Mart that it plans to put the project out to bid soon.

Last fall Wal-Mart put the project out to bid amidst the disaster relief efforts resulting from the Front Range flooding in September of 2013. Therefore, all of the bids came back at an unacceptably high level, forcing the project to be delayed until this year.

On another Wal-Mart related note, the town passed Ordinance 805 to change the Land Use and Development Code in order to clarify the rules and procedures related to filing an appeal of a decision made by the Design Review Board.

The need for a clear appeal procedure became obvious after Steve and Vivian Rader filed a lawsuit against the town in 2012.

The Rader’s suit against the town began because of the Wal-Mart issue.

On Aug. 21, 2012, the town’s Design Review Board approved Wal-Mart’s Major Design Review permit application, clearing the way for the company to continue the process of obtaining a building permit.

On Aug. 31 the Raders, even though they are not town residents, filed an appeal of the DRB decision, claiming to be “aggrieved persons of interest” as described by the town’s Land Use and Development Code because their property is within sight of the proposed Wal-Mart site at the corner of Alpha Drive and Aspen Village drive.

At the Sept. 27 town council meeting where Resolution 2012-15 was passed setting the time, place and procedures for the appeal hearing, Steve and Vivian Rader accused the town attorney, manager, planner, clerk, mayor and council of conspiring to violate their rights to due process by removing their notarized signature from one document and placing it on another.

As it turned out, after the Raders agreed to the content of the resolution and had placed their notarized signatures upon it, the town attorney did in fact change the resolution, but the only changes he made were to the resolution number (adding the “15”) and the address where the hearing would take place (it was moved from Town Hall to the Ross Aragon Community Center next door, where there is more space). No changes were made to the appeal hearing procedures themselves, which the Raders had agreed to.

On Oct. 23 the Raders thumbed their noses at the town council once again by not appearing at their own appeal hearing, deciding instead to travel to Denver on Oct. 22 to file an “Emergency Motion for Writ of Prohibition” in U.S. District Court to try to stop the appeal hearing. While the Honorable Marcia S. Krieger denied the motion for a restraining order, the Raders complaint also contained several other requests.

When contacted afterwards, the Raders stated, “For the record: our issues ceased to be about Wal-Mart a very long time ago. We only allow people to play games with our God-given rights and their oaths to protect same briefly before taking action for meaningful remedy collaterally.”

In their U.S. District Court complaint against the town, the Raders, referring to themselves in the third person, stated, “The Raders have been damaged financially, socially, emotionally, have lost time and resources in a pursuit to protect their rights, property and quality of life- endeavors rendered meaningless by the acts of officials, and have lost standing with family and friends for representations made about them by above-named defendants and as published in the local paper.”

They went on to list a variety of “prayers for relief,” including the above mentioned restraining order, as well as, “Compensatory relief for deprivations of rights and violations of oaths in amount not less than $2,0250,000 [sic]” and “Punitive damages upon officials in an amount not less than $6,750,000.”

The Raders dropped their lawsuit in February of 2013, but Wal-Mart still hasn’t pulled its building permit.