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Injunction against Wal-Mart expected to delay Burbank project

A court-ordered injunction issued against a planned Wal-Mart in Burbank could sideline the project and force the city to prove that the world's largest retailer wouldn't cause significant harm to local roadways and businesses.

Wal-Mart had been planning to renovate the former Great Indoors site adjacent to the Empire Center in time to open in mid- to late 2013, but the Los Angeles County Superior Court injunction issued Thursday effectively stops all work until the claims raised in a lawsuit filed by three Burbank residents earlier this year are settled.

The injunction also forces the city to suspend its approval of building permits issued to Wal-Mart pending a trial.

Rachel Wall, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, called the ruling “shortsighted” because she said it delays the company in providing jobs, tax revenues and “more affordable shopping options.” The company, she added, was reviewing its legal options.

In his decision, Judge Robert O'Brien wrote that the city failed to show that completion of street improvements mandated by a city ordinance wasn't required before the building permits were issued.

At the hearing, attorneys for Burbank argued that there is “substantial compliance” on the street improvements, but O'Brien said those claims needed to be determined at trial.

He added that as it stood, the city appeared to have a weak case.

City spokesman Drew Sugars said the city was “extremely disappointed” with the ruling, adding that city officials believe issuing the permits was appropriate.

Shanna Ingalsbee, who with Katherine Olson and Yvette Ziraldo filed the lawsuit in an attempt to block Wal-Mart, said the decision is a victory for residents and businesses in Burbank. The trio are represented by attorney Gideon Kracov, who is also legal counsel for United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 770.

“We're happy we can shine a light on Wal-Mart's actions and the need to follow the development rules in our community,” Ingalsbee said in a statement. “We hope this ruling gives our city the time necessary to seriously consider the significant negative impacts we feel Wal-Mart would have on our city businesses and residents.”

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— Mark Kellam

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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