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Galt wants to know: Where’s Walmart?

Some are questioning why the big-box store has yet to break ground

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Posted: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 5:51 am, Tue Jun 19, 2012.

Walmart won’t break ground on the new store in Galt until fall, although the city council approved final site plans seven months ago and anticipated groundbreaking this summer.

But the company has yet to pull a building permit, City Manager Jason Behrmann confirmed last week.

Once it does, construction will likely take between 10 and 12 months.

Resident Al Baldwin, among those looking forward to the store’s opening, was disappointed to hear of the postponement.

“We don’t like delays,” he said.

He and his wife aren’t just planning to shop there — Baldwin said he might apply for a job.

“It will be good for Galt’s infrastructure,” he said. “It’s a boon for the city.”

In November, council members made final changes to the planned 133,000-square-foot store at the undeveloped corner of Twin Cities Road and Fermoy Way. It is expected to provide approximately 200 jobs and added sales tax revenue for the city coffers.

But Walmart spokeswoman Delia Garcia said groundbreaking likely won’t come until fall. She did not provide any additional information.

Behrmann said Monday the delay will not affect the city’s budget, up for approval tonight.

“We didn’t put any Walmart revenue in the 2012-13 budget,” he said. “All of the Walmart revenue is shown in 2013-14, which should be achievable with a fall groundbreaking.”

Walmart had originally proposed to build in Galt in 2007, but the project was met with opposition and ultimately litigation by a community group whose members filed a lawsuit in late 2010.

The group, known as Galt Citizens for Sensible Planning, dismissed its lawsuit when the city agreed to outside noise monitoring twice during the first year of Walmart’s operation and to move the building back an additional 15 feet from adjacent residences to the south and east.

Construction of similar stores has been delayed across the country due to ongoing litigation or discrepancies in costs.

In Lodi, the proposed store at Kettleman Lane and Lower Sacramento Road has been tangled in litigation since it was first approved in 2004.

In March, with a unanimous vote, the 3rd District of the California Court of Appeal denied the appeal of two groups that contested the city’s state-mandated environmental documents for Walmart.

The groups had until June 4 to file an appeal, but they did not, clearing the way for Lodi’s project to move forward, according to City Attorney Steve Schwabauer.

City Manager Rad Bartlam said Walmart has not yet filed official plans for the new store, but he expects the store will move forward soon.

Galt and Lodi aren’t alone in experiencing delays.

Days after its planned groundbreaking, construction on a new Walmart Supercenter in Maryland was put on hold last fall when the half-dozen construction bids for the project came in much higher than Walmart thought they would. The store still is not open.

Closer to home, a planned Supercenter in Lemoore in the southern Central Valley has been delayed by a new environmental report after the one produced in 2003 became outdated. The company has been in talks with the city since 2003.

And just last week, the city council in the Bay Area city of Hercules approved the sale of a 17.25-acre parcel once owned by Walmart to a housing developer for about $8.75 million. The city’s redevelopment agency had bought the parcel from Walmart in 2008 for $13.9 million after the retail giant dropped plans to build a store there, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

News-Sentinel staff writer Maggie Creamer contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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