The legal battle to stop a Walmart from opening in Burbank is scheduled to go to trial on Aug. 17, when a judge will consider an injunction seeking to halt renovations at the new store site.
The three Burbank residents seeking to stop the renovation of the former Great Indoors site — Shanna Ingalsbee, Katherine Olson and Yvette Ziraldo — have filed a lawsuit demanding that more be done to study the economic and environmental impact of the world's largest retailer moving in next to the Empire Center.
In their motion, the trio state that Walmart gave notice by letter to their attorney that it planned to start improvements last week, although as of Tuesday afternoon, it didn't appear any work had begun on the interior of the building.
The three women are represented by attorney Gideon Kracov, who is also legal counsel for United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 770. Walmart representatives have previously claimed Kracov's union client has an ax to grind.
In May, the three women filed a lawsuit against the city seeking to block the issuance of building permits to Walmart — which the city had already granted — in addition to the environmental review, claiming the retail giant would have a far greater impact than the city's findings indicated.
In its counter-motion, the city contends that the issuance of permits was ministerial in nature.
“The city's role here was to review the tenant improvement plans for consistency with the city's building code,” the city's response states. “Once the city was satisfied that the improvements were consistent with the city's objective standards and requirements, it was required to issue the requested permits.”
The city also argues that another environmental impact review isn't needed because Walmart is considered a big-box store, which is allowed at the location. The lawsuit claims that the planned sale of groceries moves it out of that category.
The city's counter-motion cites the Empire Center's entitlements for the section of the development where the new Walmart is slated, and that the city allows stores such as a Super Kmart, which sells groceries, to operate.
The suit also alleges that the city has yet to complete street improvements that were required before building permits could be issued for any new businesses in, or adjacent to, the Empire Center. The plaintiffs cite a resolution approved by the City Council in June 2000.
City officials have said they plan to make the traffic improvements in the future, but the amount of traffic at those intersections hasn't risen to the level where they need to be done now.
Late last month, Walmart agreed to pay for Burbank's defense against the lawsuit, in accordance with an agreement between the city and developer of the Empire Center, which also encompasses the former Great Indoors site.
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