Grocery store plans for Arroyo stalled

Opponents of the development said the project would adversely impact existing businesses and cause traffic problems and decrease the safety for pedestrians in the area.

clambert@thetribunenews.comMarch 8, 2011 

A proposal to add a grocery store and other commercial buildings to one of Arroyo Grande’s “gateway” areas did not move forward Tuesday night.

Instead, developer Nick Tompkins of NKT Commercial requested the development standards on his 4.47-acre parcel at East Grand Avenue and South Courtland Street be wiped clean and redone at a later time.

Tompkins’ project, which the council would consider separately, was continued to an unknown future date.

“It was never my intent in this process to create something that wasn’t beneficial to the community,” Tompkins said, joking that he received a “shellacking” in response to his proposal to add two commercial buildings, a grocery store and a restaurant to the site.

“I don’t know what we’re going to come back with, but we’re limited by creating an economically viable project.”

The City Council had last considered the project Feb. 8. Opponents of the development said the project would adversely impact existing businesses — specifically nearby grocery stores including Cookie Crock Warehouse and Spencer’s Fresh Market — cause traffic problems and decrease the safety for pedestrians in the area.

Tompkins said he plans to reach out to the local residents and business owners.

“I’m going to bother everyone in terms of taking their time,” he said. “I really want to listen so that when we come back, there is some consensus in this process and there is something that as a community we can be proud of.”

A few community members said they appreciated Tompkins’ decision.

“We’re inspired to hear what the developer has to say tonight, and we welcome that opportunity,” said John Mack, an architect who lives in the Berry Gardens neighborhood, located behind the proposed project.

While one project stalled, a separate proposal at the same site moved forward.

The council voted 4-0 to approve San Luis Obispo-based Peoples’ Self-Help Housing’s proposal to construct and manage 36 multi-family units on 1.63 acres at the back portion of the property. The homes would be deed-restricted to low- and very-low income tenants.

Mayor Tony Ferrara had to recuse himself because he lives within 500 feet of the proposed project.

A few residents of the Berry Gardens neighborhood expressed concerns that some proposed parking stalls would face six homes on Strawberry Avenue and could cause noise and privacy issues. The area between the two properties would be screened with trees.

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