Two weeks from Monday, another new Wal-Mart, this one in Chelan, Washington, was set to open. Was, until December 29, when a Washington district judge ruled that the business didn't have a proper building permit. That might have seemed almost beside the point by then, since the building was already constructed - it was even being stocked with merchandise. But as matters stand, there's a real chance it may not open at all.
It may be the first time a Wal-Mart store has actually been built, only to be stopped from opening. There is even a chance it will be torn down (which is more than a lot of empty Wal-Marts have been) - its critics say they will be seeking as much.
The basis for the stoppage sounds more picky than it is. The project started not a a Wal-Mart development (apparently at least) but as something called the Apple Blossom Center, for which the city signed off on a "planned development district" with specific terms. Those terms included a variety of commercial developments, with a maximum size limit of 50,000 square feet on any one. That limit, as the judge notes, was never changed by the city, which last fall stood by and watched Wal-Mart and its developer, Pacland, build a stand-issue 162,000-sqaure-foot Wal-Mart store.
"Here," Judge Lesley Allan concluded, "this court is left with the definite and firm conviction that the city erred in granting the two permits at issue." That meant the court voided the city's building and grading permits.