Decision on the proposed Grocery Outlet waits as Truckee seeks to minimize impacts on neighborhoods
The battle over a Grocery Outlet store planned for Donner Pass Road and Vista Avenue will go another round after the Truckee Town Council directed staff to gather more information on traffic and other impacts in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The town council met Tuesday to decide an appeal of the 16,147-square-foot market, which stemmed from The Town of Truckee Planning Commission’s approval of the project via a 2-1-1 vote in April.
The meeting lasted roughly three hours as town staff made its presentation, followed by arguments from the proposed market’s two appellants, Bud and Sharon Arnold, and Protect CEQA. The Arnolds reside on Vista Avenue and appealed the planning commission’s adoption of the resolution, arguing the project would negatively impact the character of the neighborhood.
“Our concern is the traffic and the livability and the walkability of the neighborhood,” said Bud Arnold.
“We all hope to preserve and enhance the character of our neighborhood and this project does not. This project will wreck the old historic character of Gateway Park forever.”
Protect CEQA, a statewide coalition of environmentalists, labor members and concerned residents, also filed an appeal of the project, stating the store is inconsistent with the Town of Truckee General Plan, which strives to protect and enhance the vitality of Truckee. Protect CEQA also raised issues on the economic impact the store would have on Downtown Truckee.
Kurt Reinkens, of MWA, Inc. Architecture Engineering, presented at the council meeting on behalf of Grocery Outlet.
“Welcome to another episode of Grocery Wars in this galaxy, far, far away,” said Reinkens. “This is the fourth hearing in this project’s evolution and I’m exhausted thinking about the massive thought and permutations behind the scenes.”
Reinkens and MWA’s Eli Meyer laid out plans for the store, which will have 11,610 square feet of retail area, and 57 on-site parking spaces. The proposed store will sit along Donner Pass Road, with parking on the back of the parcel, and will include a covered sidewalk and parking along Donner Pass Road. The market’s parking lot will also be recessed from the surrounding neighborhood, and there will be a 60-foot open space area between the property and the adjacent homes.
Council wants more mitigation options
If approved, Reinkens said Truckee’s Grocery Outlet won’t look like the chain’s typical markets, and is instead designed to fit in with the local surroundings. Reinkens added that if Grocery Outlet were ever to leave as a tenant, the building could be modified into smaller units for other businesses to lease.
The project also includes three workforce housing units, which will face Vista Avenue.
Following Grocery Outlet’s presentation, the town council then opened the floor for public comment, where several residents of the neighborhood again voiced disapproval of the project, namely the added traffic and wait times trying to exit the neighborhood onto Donner Pass Road.
Sara Hawley, principal at LSC Transportation Consultants, though, gave her opinion regarding traffic in the area, using counts done last November and during the summer of 2014.
“We don’t expect there to be a shift that would change any of the character of Vista, or Tahoe, or Sierra, or any of those streets back there,” said Hawley. “Given that our traffic volumes are conservative compared to actual summer counts that were done in 2014, we don’t think it’s going to be a significant issue adding the grocery store traffic to Vista Avenue.”
Ultimately, the town council wanted more information in regard to traffic and the impact on the neighborhood, asking staff to build on the work that was already performed and do a neighborhood average daily traffic review. The council asked for an analysis on delivery times at the store versus school bus pickups, signage in the area, as well as issues with parking, in an effort to explore more options in minimizing the impact on the neighborhood.
“I would like more options on mitigation of impacts in the neighborhood,” said Mayor Carolyn Wallace Dee. “I would like to see what more we possibly can do.”
Councilmember Jessica Abrams then motioned to continue discussion on the issue to a date to be determined, which passed unanimously.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.