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Legal battle over Walmart heating up over plaintiffs' requests for information. County's foes seek to determine whether Orange employees felt pressured to advance development plan
Date published: 10/19/2010
Walmart's traffic analysis for the Route 3 and Route 20 intersection relied, in part, on a new road being built across the King family's adjoining land west of the retail center's site, yet the retailer's talks with the Kings produced no agreement on that access, the plaintiffs state. That western entrance was to handle both eastbound and westbound Route 3 traffic, easing pressure on the intersection.
VDOT engineer Matthew Bolick told board Chairman Lee Frame and a county planner in a July 27, 2009, e-mail that without the King road, Walmart would have to revise its analysis to show how it would relieve the traffic increase.
In discovery, no documents were produced "indicating what steps [Frame and county staff] took, if any, when they learned that fact," the plaintiffs' brief states.
The plaintiffs also say they need to depose Frame about their claim that the county didn't provide adequate legal notice for the Planning Commission's Aug. 21 special meeting, at which it voted 5-1 to recommend board approval of the Walmart proposal.
It was the commission's third vote on the issue, after a 4-4 deadlock the night before and 6-5 vote for approval June 25 that was declared invalid because of a problem with legal advertising.
Asked for comment late last week on the plaintiffs' recent filings, Pandak said she didn't want to "try the case in the press." Robert Rosenbaum, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, declined to comment.
The trial is scheduled to start Jan. 25.
Clint Schemmer: 540/368-5029
In a renewed motion to compel the Orange County Board of Supervisors to produce documents, the plaintiffs in the Wilderness Walmart case ask:
That the board provide a detailed log of supposedly privileged communications so the plaintiffs and the court can assess whether they are protected.
That the court order the supervisors to produce all documents involved in their firing of County Administrator William Rolfe. The plaintiffs claim the board fired Rolfe for suggesting, in an e-mail later made public, that it should consider alternative sites for the retail center farther from the national park "to preserve the battlefield as a tourist destination."
That the court compel supervisors and current or former county officials to answer questions about personnel matters. Besides Rolfe, "other county employees were at least uncertain about the status of their positions with the county during the crucial time" when the staff was reviewing the Walmart proposal for action by the supervisors, the plaintiffs state.