by Doug Nadvornick & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & al-Mart's Monday announcement that it won't build on a site at 44th and Regal in south Spokane brought temporary relief to residents who were fighting to keep the giant retailer out of their neighborhood.

"It's good to know the general consumer still has a voice in determining where commerce can be done in their cities," says Patrick Ream, who lives less than a half mile from the still-vacant site.

Others who have fought the Wal-Mart proposal say this is a chance for residents to have a positive role in determining how that property is developed.

"Shame on us for waiting so long before getting involved in this," says Patrick Moore, the chairman of the Southgate Neighborhood Council. "We need to parlay this momentum into something that's right for the neighborhood. We need to get with City Hall to change the zoning at the site."

Moore wonders whether developer Harlan Douglass will pursue another big-box retailer. He says he'd like to meet with the developer to see if Douglass and neighborhood leaders can find common ground. Douglass hadn't returned our call for comment before press time.

"We're not against development and the developer getting the best bang for his buck," Moore says. But, he says, "our neighborhood is one of the last in town with large tracts of undeveloped property. We need to work with the city to start penciling out how development should take place here."

For Paul Kropp, a vocal opponent of the project, the question is whether the city will enforce environmental laws at the site. "The city should have already taken steps to identify the drainage patterns there," he says.

City Planning Director Steve Franks says his department is processing an application by the developer that he be allowed to subdivide the site. He says Wal-Mart's decision doesn't affect that. The developer has also applied for a permit to prepare the property for construction. Franks says the city also wants a study done to identify wetlands at the site. City officials say it appears a wetland there was filled in between May and July 2005 and that they're investigating a complaint about that.

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