It’s back to the Planning Commission for the developer of a Seaside property intended for construction of an 18,000-square-foot Grocery Outlet at 325 Avenue N.
In previous sessions, the commission told developers they could go ahead with plans to acquire a U.S. Highway 101 property for a Grocery Outlet.
But first they would need to install a left-hand turning lane to meet the increase in traffic, listed as one of eight conditions of approval.
At Monday's City Council meeting, Main & Main’s Dan Dover said conditions imposed by the commission were “insurmountable,” leading to the decision to appeal.
“ODOT is on the record saying they will complete the turn lane project,” Dover said. “We feel this burden has been put unduly on us when it is a commitment by ODOT. We’re here tonight to try to find a solution to help the city get what it wants and pave the way for development.”
Costs to the developer should be proportionate to the increase in traffic, attorney David Phillips said on behalf of Main & Main, the capital group working with Grocery Outlet. “Our only option was to appeal and to get that particular condition removed.”
The applicant's consultant Mike Ard said projected volume of about 1,300 daily trips would represent a traffic increase of about 3 to 5 percent along U.S. Highway 101.
The cost of a turn lane, estimated at $2 million to $3 million, is “out of scale” with a projected building cost of $1.5 to $2 million.
“It really shocks the conscience to think we’d have to spend far more than for an improvement existing public facility that we were told would be funded by ODOT when we started,” Ard said. “What’s being asked is disproportionate to the scale of what we’re doing. We’d sure like to see a left-turn lane. We just can’t pay the price tag associated with that project.”
Attorney Karl Anuta, on behalf of Protect Pacific Northwest, an organization founded in 2017 to protect natural resources and fight urban sprawl, said the developer was attempting to foist impacts of the project “off onto the community.”
The conditions imposed by the Planning Commission are “very reasonable, if not perhaps a little too lenient considering the scope of the expected impacts from this development,” Anuta said.
“The problem is, the developer is asking you, or the state taxpayers — somebody else other than them — to shoulder the cost of increase in traffic. ... That doesn’t make any sense.”
Anuta suggested delaying approval until road funding becomes available. “If you want to build a store, mitigate the impacts.”
Council members had the option of accepting the Planning Commission’s recommendations, reject them, or send the application back for further review.
Steve Wright asked for testimony from ODOT at the Planning Commission level before issuing a council decision. “My biggest concern is not necessarily traffic for residents, it’s traffic for visitors. At some point they’ll decide we’ll go someplace where the traffic is not as bad.”
Mayor Jay Barber called it a “difficult issue,” and asked the Planning Commission to “work a little more to come up with a solution.”
The record will be reopened by the Planning Commission, limited to discussion of the turn lane. “We ask that it be laser-focused on the proportionality of the impacts,” Dover said, a focus agreed to and voted unanimously upon by the council.
“We want some finality, no doubt about it,” Dover said after the meeting.
As for a solution, “The city has really proposed nothing, so we have another chance to plead our case,” Dover added. “It’s just trying to figure out what will satisfy the Planning Commission and the City Council.”