In December, the Seaside Planning Commission told developers they could go ahead with plans to acquire a U.S. Highway 101 property for a Grocery Outlet — with a few conditions.
One of those may be a deal breaker: a left-turn lane.
Without it, the business owners would be denied a certificate of occupancy.
In an appeal, Main & Main Capital Group, based in The Colony, Texas, contends that the commission’s conditions are unconstitutional and compliance “would render the project economically unfeasible.”
Main & Main, which is under contract to purchase the property in the spring with plans to lease it to Grocery Outlet, wants the City Council to strike the turn-lane requirement or send the decision back to the commission and provide further opportunity for response.
They say the Planning Commission didn’t give them a chance to present “countervailing evidence,” thereby denying their state and federal due process rights.
Planning commissioners approved the request to build the 18,000-square-foot Grocery Outlet in December.
In their findings, city planners say Grocery Outlet would have a “significant impact on local highway traffic.”
State Department of Transportation plans to improve the roadway are years away and less than one-third of the $10 million needed to fund the project is available.
“At present, neither ODOT or the city of Seaside have sufficient funds to address the traffic impacts that would be created by development,” planners stated.
Wary of traffic impacts and concerned for driver and pedestrian safety along the highway near Avenue N, commissioners added conditions that include a requirement to either develop a turn lane or restrict left turns in and out of the property.
Main & Main’s Dan Dover said the turn-lane requirement was unfair. “They can’t preclude an existing property from access to the highway,” he said.
Michael Ard, the developer’s traffic consultant, provided data showing “vehicles never stacked very deep and within a minute or two, it always unwound,” Dover said. “It’s not like you’re going to have a pile of cars.”
Risks to drivers and pedestrians along the 35 mph highway are “extremely negligible,” he added.
The turn lane is “a self-imposed requirement by the city with no factual backup,” Dover said. “They’ve done no studies to show it is required. Yes, it will improve the situation in the future, and DOT has demonstrated that, but it’s not a requirement to access Highway 101. We are within the parameters that DOT can allow this project to proceed.”
The Planning Commission did offer Main & Main an alternative, amending their findings to offer the developer a right-in, right out driveway from the property.
That’s not enough, the developer says.
“Right-in, right-out totally limits people’s ability to go into and out of that site,” Dover said. He estimates it would cut store traffic in half. “It’s a deal killer.”
The City Council will hear the appeal on Jan. 28.
“Our hope is they would uphold the approval but remove the condition to improve the intersection,” Dover said. “Owners of commercial property, especially along the highway corridor, have the right to access the highway.”