Tehachapi Walmart to move ahead

TEHACHAPI, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Proponents of a Walmart in Tehachapi won a key victory Monday evening. The City Council voted 5-0 to uphold the decision by the city's planning commission to certify the project's environmental impact report.

Tehachapi First, a group of local residents opposed to building a Walmart in the city, had appealed the decision by the planning commission to the City Council.

Among concerns raised by opponents is that small, local businesses would be forced to shut down as they cannot compete with the giant retailer. Others cited traffic congestion, noise and blight concerns.

The issue has been controversial in this mountain community. Proponents of the project said the city stands to benefit through sales taxes and jobs. Residents said they would not have to drive to Bakersfield for shopping.

Opponents filed suit in Kern County Superior Court claiming the city had failed to conduct an adequate EIR. And, two years ago, Judge Kenneth Twissleman agreed with opponents, ordering the city to amend its EIR after finding that it was deficient.

Anticipating a large crowd, the meeting was held at Tehachapi High School. Thirty-two spoke in favor, while 17 argued against bringing Walmart to Tehachapi.

The next step is for the project to return to Twissleman for review and determination of the lawsuit.