May 22, 2012 | The issue of Walmart in Hayward and its denial last month by the city’s planning commission has proven to be a potent talking point for city council candidates with pro-business leaning.

The heat on three incumbent council members up for re-election in June will get hotter Tuesday night when they discuss overturning the April 5, 4-3, decision to block Walmart from setting up shop at the defunct Circuit City site on Whipple Road.

The city’s staff recommends overturning the decision saying the current conditional permit is consistent with opening a grocery store on the property at 2480 Whipple Road. The proposed Walmart is a scaled down 5.14 acre store that will focus primarily on groceries and pharmacy services.

The project would also not be subject to California Environmental Quality Act guidelines, according to a staff report. “There is no reasonable possibility that the proposed grocery store will have a significant effect on the environment,” the report said.

Numerous speakers at the April 5 planning commission hearing questioned whether increased traffic at the notoriously congested nearby road and additional deliveries would cause a higher incidence of pollution.

The planning commission’s determination was appealed April 16 by a resident at nearby Spanish Ranch I mobile home park, among others, and the property’s owner, Daniel Temkin.

The deciding vote for the planning commission’s 4-3 decision blocking Temkin from leasing his property to Walmart came from Hayward city council candidate Al Mendall, who many believe is one of the front runners to win a seat on the council on June 5.

Current members Francisco Zermeno, Barbara Halliday and Olden Henson are also up for re-election. Those three now find themselves in the ineviable position of making a high-profile decision involving Walmart–a perennial bogeyman among liberals–less than two weeks before election day.