Wal-Mart studies expected to begin in Atascadero

Council set to launch economic and environmental analysis of proposed project, which could face changes
AnnMarie Cornejo – acornejo@thetribunenews.com
The Atascadero City Council on Tuesday is expected to launch a long-awaited economic and environmental analysis of the proposed Wal-Mart and an adjacent shopping center.

The report has been delayed since March, when Atascadero residents prepared to vote on an ill-fated ballot initiative that would have restricted the size of the store.

The study will determine the project’s effects on the surrounding area, including impacts on traffic, air quality and city services.

The planning document will also detail project alternatives — possibly including several project changes recently proposed by City Councilman Jerry Clay.

He has asked fellow council members to consider adding two restaurant pads to the front of the Wal-Mart project, moving the retailer’s garden center outdoors and adding a drive-through pharmacy to the main building.

Clay’s request mimics what he says the community has expressed interest in.

The council will discuss adding the proposals as a studied project alternative when it meets Tuesday night.

The request has been called unusual by some residents because the developer has not yet asked for the changes.

“These are things that people in the community have said they want,” Clay said. “It is very possible Wal-Mart may not be interested in making these changes, but I wanted to bring them to the discussion.”

Wal-Mart spokesman Aaron Rios, who will attend Tuesday’s meeting along with the project consultants, said that he did not plan to address the council with any additional requests.

“We will present the plan we requested in March of 2008 and are open to consider any changes requested by the council or staff,” Rios said of Clay’s proposals.

Wal-Mart and developer The Rottman Group submitted a revised application to the city Jan. 9 for the planned 146,500-square-foot store and 114,574-square-foot strip mall at Del Rio Road and El Camino Real.

Adding the two restaurant pads suggested by Clay to the project could potentially add 16,000-square-feet to the project — pushing the project over the 150,000-square-foot cap required for the project site by the city’s General Plan, its blueprint for regulating growth.

A General Plan amendment would be required to allow the added square footage, said Warren Frace, Community Development director.

The environmental review process is estimated to take more than a year to complete. Additional public meetings, study sessions and planning reviews will follow before construction will begin.

The City Council voted 4-1 in March to process Wal-Mart and the Rottman Group’s applications, but the looming Shield Initiative led the developers to hold off taking the next step of the environmental review.

The ballot measure sought to ban any store of more than 150,000 square feet and restrict stores of more than 90,000 square feet from devoting 5 percent or more of their space to groceries.

The decisive defeat of the ballot measure by voters in November once again launched the planning process forward.

“This is the next step that has always been anticipated,” Frace said.

The Wal-Mart application includes retail sales, a grocery and a garden center on a 21.6-acre site with 650 parking spaces. The adjacent Annex Shopping Center, proposed by the Rottman Group, includes eight retail buildings on a 13-acre site. The site plan includes one drive-through restaurant and a drug store with a drive-through pharmacy.

Project details and maps are available for public review during business hours at City Hall, 6907 El Camino Real.



Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s