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Arroyo Grande may get new grocery store, but not a Food 4 Less

After numerous changes, several meetings and hours of public comment and discussion, Arroyo Grande planning commissioners this week sent forward a project that could still add a grocery store to one of the city’s gateway areas — but not a Food 4 Less.

The 51,000-square-foot grocery store proposed in a project at East Grand Avenue and South Courtland Street has been scaled down to 36,100 square feet, and Food 4 Less is no longer a proposed tenant, said Carol Florence, a representative for the applicant, Nick Tompkins of NKT Commercial.

The project, and particularly the inclusion of Food 4 Less, had prompted many local residents to sign petitions in opposition to the store and voice their concerns about the building’s proposed size and potential traffic it may cause.

After a lengthy meeting Tuesday, planning commissioners voted 4-0 in two separate hearings to recommend the City Council approve Tompkins’ project application and changes to the specific plan guiding development in the area. Commissioner Jennifer Martin was absent.

“I feel like this is a more cohesive plan,” said Commissioner Kristen Barneich, who noted she felt that Food 4 Less was driving the original site proposal.

Planners also asked the city’s Traffic Commission to take another look at the project’s updated traffic study, the turning radius for truck deliveries to the grocery store and the location of a proposed loading dock.

Commissioners also moved ahead a much less controversial proposal — a plan by San Luis Obispo-based Peoples’ Self-Help Housing to build 36 multifamily units that will be deed-restricted to low- and very-low-income tenants.

Both projects are located on a 6.1-acre parcel. Tompkins’ proposal encompasses the majority of the land, with 4.47 acres at the front of the site, bordering East Grand Avenue.

The Peoples’ Self- Help Housing project is on the remaining 1.63 acres in the back.

Tompkins’ plan also includes two commercial buildings, at 5,800 and 6,700 square feet, and a 6,767-square-foot restaurant. No tenants have been identified.

The City Council will likely consider his request in January.

Concerns from Arroyo Grande residents who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting centered on how much traffic the project could generate and the safety of the parking lot. The developer had proposed the loading dock be located on the west side of the grocery store, requiring trucks to drive across the parking lot to reach it.

The location of the loading dock was moved to the east side of the store before commissioners voted on the proposal.

“The question is, are we encouraging more traffic and making it unsafe for those who live there?” John Mack asked.

His son, then 13, suffered scrapes and bruises when he was hit by a pickup truck while riding his bike on the sidewalk on South Courtland Street near CVS Pharmacy about two years ago. The bicycle was totaled, Mack said.

“People, as they’re coming out of their driveway, don’t look,” Mack said Wednesday. “That’s the problem of putting commercial (development) in a residential area.”

A traffic study prepared for NKT Commercial found that the project is expected to generate 6,429 additional daily trips and does not create a significant impact on the area.

FIND OUT MORE

The updated traffic study prepared for developer NKT Commercial is posted at www.arroyogrande.org under “public notices.” A copy is also available for the public to view at City Hall, 214 E. Branch St. in Arroyo Grande.

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