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Judge Blocks Construction Of Burbank Walmart

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BURBANK (CBSLA.com) — A judge Wednesday blocked the construction of a Walmart store slated to open in Burbank, citing the need for an environmental impact report and street improvements that have been delayed by more than a dozen years.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan Goodman ruled that the city acted “in a manner not authorized by law” by issuing permits and concealing information from the City Council “critical to the making of informed decisions” about the planned project at the Empire Center.

The Burbank City Council approved the construction of the discount retail store in February 2012.

Three Burbank residents challenged the decision, demanding that the impact on the environment be studied and street improvements made in a subsequent lawsuit.

The decision effectively rescinds all permits allowing the Walmart to be built at the proposed location.

It also requires the city to adhere closely to the laws mandating the study and consideration of environmental, traffic, and economic impacts of the giant superstore on the surrounding neighborhoods.

Walmart spokesperson Rachel Wall told CBSLA.com the company is reviewing the ruling and evaluating all legal options.

“We believe the vacant, former Great Indoors store is suited for Walmart and the permits were granted properly by the City of Burbank – like the more than 1,300 similar permits granted for this shopping center over the last 13 years,” she said.

“We decided to open a store here because we know local residents want good employment opportunities, including hundreds of jobs for the construction industry, a convenient place for one-stop shopping, and a new business to bolster the local economy.”

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Gideon Kracov, is happy with the decision.

“What this case proves is that Walmart is not above the law. It must follow the same rules as every other resident and business in Burbank,” he told KCAL9’s Serene Branson.

Rick Icaza, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770, echoed his remarks.

“The court showed today that the rule of law applies equally, and serves the needs of our communities, not corporations,” Icaza said.

“We are proud to stand with the communities like Burbank which our members live and work in to protect jobs, the environment, and the quality of our neighborhoods.”

The decision came one day before a series of planned protests across the country calling for better wages for Walmart workers.

The Los Angeles march is scheduled for 11 a.m., stretching from Pershing Square to the site of a proposed Walmart neighborhood market near Chinatown.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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