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Judge denies petition aiming to block Chico Walmart expansion

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CHICO, Calif. - At the Butte County Superior Courthouse, Judge Stephen Benson decided that a petition filed by Chico Advocates for a Responsible Economy, or CARE, was not enough to block Walmart's expansion.

The decision came Thursday, but this has been an ongoing controversy in Chico for decades.

The petition claimed that this Walmart expansion would cause other local stores like it to close, which would then result in urban decay in empty storefronts.

Judge Benson ruled that under the California Environmental Quality Act, a store closure alone was not a physical impact on the environment.

Last November, the Chico City Council approved the proposal to expand the existing 131,302 square foot store on Forest Avenue by 55,730 square feet.

Tuesday, Councilman Randal Stone, who voted against this expansion, said he wasn't surprised the judge denied the petition.

"I think we routinely disregard how much stores like Walmart degrade and decline a community's economic environment," Stone said. "There are, no question, some benefits to that environment but the net loss is not insignificant. So anytime we see that dismissed, whether it's an environmental report or otherwise, it's not something that's comforting, but the law is the law and the judge ruled."

Stone said he's unsure if this means the expansion will now soon be underway.

KRCR contacted the attorney's who filed the petition, but did not hear back in time for deadline.

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