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Quartz Hill claims victory in fight to keep out Wal-Mart

This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.

The town of Quartz Hill in the Antelope Valley is claiming victory against retail giant Wal-Mart after winning a six-year court battle to prevent the big-box retailer from opening a store there.

The community group Quartz Hill Cares took on Wal-Mart and the city of Lancaster in a David-versus-Goliath battle, KTLA-TV reported.

Wal-Mart wanted to build a 100,000-square-foot store across the street from Quartz Hill High School in the 6000 block of West Avenue. Despite the potential addition of jobs, a number of residents said they did not want a place that could potentially sell alcohol so close to the school.

After a series of lengthy court battles that took the case to California's 2nd District Court of Appeal, Quartz Hill won. Despite the court victory, plans for the Wal-Mart store in Quartz Hill are still moving forward, Wal-Mart officials said Tuesday.

"The mayor said from the very beginning that this will be built," said Loretta Barry of Quartz Hill Cares. "He said he didn't care about the citizens of Quartz Hill or the businesses."

Still, the group persevered, and Barry said she would encourage others to do the same.

"We just want to put the message out there that small communities can do this," Barry said. "If the average person has the calling to make a difference, then they need to jump in there and do it. They need to get a group together, they need to hang in there, they need to fight the fight."

Wal-Mart is trying to build a "Neighborhood Mart" in downtown Los Angeles' Chinatown that would be one-fifth the size of its superstores.

[Updated, 4:48 p.m.] Wal-Mart later issued a statement.

"We proposed a store in Quartz Hill in 2007 with strong support from the city of Lancaster," Steven Restivo, senior director of community affairs at Wal-Mart, said in the statement. "A handful of residents filed a lawsuit soon thereafter, but we won the case in its entirety. In an effort to further delay our store plans, the same group appealed, but the Court of Appeal upheld the trial court's decision in favor of Wal-Mart, with the exception of one narrow, economic analysis issue.

"As a result, we are working with the city to provide that additional information. The bottom line is that the court went through every one of our opponents' arguments and dismissed them all with the exception of one easily correctable item. We expect our Quartz Hill plans to move forward and look forward to serving customers there soon."

[For the record, April 3 at 1:01 p.m.: A previous version of this post stated that residents feared the store would sell weapons close to a school, but Wal-Mart officials said state law prohibits the sale of guns near schools, so any future store there would not be selling them.]

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-- KTLA-TV

 
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