The planning commission in Tehachapi has approved a Walmart project by a 4-1 vote.
Three weeks ago, Ted Kitzmiller and about 200 others were shut out of the planning commission's original hearing on the proposed Walmart Supercenter.
"They won't let you in to hear whats planned for your city, whats there to do?" Kitzmiller asked on Jan. 10.
At the time, city officials said they weren't prepared for that kind of turnout.
"We didn't anticipate the number of people," said David James, the community development director. "We got a little bit caught off guard."
On Monday night, things went very differently as Kitzmiller and dozens of others finally got their turn to step up to the mic.
"If you people think that only Kmart and one of the markets will be taken out, which is a big take out, you guys have got your head in the wrong place," said Kitzmiller on Monday.
Along with residents and city officials, Walmart representatives were also on hand to make their case to the community.
"Our customers are telling us that they would like to see a Walmart store in Tehachapi," said Amelia Neufeld, the senior manager for Walmart public affairs. "They're tired of driving down to Bakersfield and Antelope Valley to do their shopping. They would like to see the benefits of a Walmart store along with 300 new jobs that will be created at our store along with the sales tax revenues."
While Walmart's future in Tehachapi is still uncertain, the one thing that is, is its ability to divide a community. Despite being divided, many residents, including Kitzmiller, said they're ready for the commission to finally make a decision.
"I've been in and out since the last meeting," said Kitzmiller. "I had a lot to say, but you know, I'm tired."
There is now a two week window to file an appeal. If an appeal is filed, the project goes back to the City Council, which would make the ultimate decision.
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