After last Thursday night’s Planning Commission public hearing the commission voted on the proposed Wilderness Walmart. There were eight commissioners in attendance and they split their vote 4-4. According to the county bylaws, this in effect results in a denial of the application since there was not a majority vote in favor of the proposal. There was some discussion among the Planning Commission and attorneys after the 4-4 vote was cast, and in the end the commission adjourned the meeting indicating the matter was settled.
On Friday, however, county officials realized that sending the proposal to the Board of Supervisors with a negative recommendation was simply unacceptable, and decided to reconvene Friday evening for what had been a scheduled meeting to discuss the Walmart proposal further if no vote was cast Thursday night. They called this meeting even though some commission members would be unavailable and in spite of the fact that they had adjourned Thursday night after voting, which would indicate that the vote had settled the matter. Of course, one more Walmart supporter was able to attend and they ended up voting 5-1 in favor of the Walmart.
With this vote in hand the matter moved to the Board of Supervisors with a positive recommendation from the Planning Commission.
Since the commission had adjourned Thursday after voting, instead of recessing, most everyone involved, including the public, understood this to mean that the vote was final and the application would now go to the Board of Supervisors. For the Planning Commission to revisit the vote in the manner they did is not only curious, but also highly inappropriate. They were too concerned about getting a positive vote before the Supervisors held a public hearing that they hastily gathered again, knowing that the second time would yield the result they wanted, and cast their votes again.
This is just another example of how poorly Orange County has handled this Walmart proposal from start to finish.