RED BLUFF PLANNING COMMISSION


MINUTES

Date of Meeting: March 28, 2006

Time of Meeting: 6:30 p.m.

Place of Meeting: Red Bluff Community/Senior Center

1500 So. Jackson Street


Commissioners Present: Doug Dale

James Brink

Greg Latourell

Andrew Christ

Jack Winter

Commissioners Absent: None


Staff Present: Charlie Mullen, Planning Director

Rick Crabtree, City Attorney

Al Shamblin, Police Chief/Acting City Manager

Mark Barthel, Public Works Director

Cheryl Smith, Deputy City Clerk

Scot Timboe, Planner

Nik Reikalas, Parks and Recreation Director

Gerry Gray, Fire Chief

Cheryl Smith, Deputy City Clerk



Chairperson Brink called the meeting to order at 5:16 p.m.

Wayne Brown, Mayor Pro Tem, led the Pledge of Allegiance at the request of Chairperson Brink and the Assemblage joined in.


A. CITIZENS COMMENTS

None



B. CONSENT CALENDAR:


1. APPROVAL OF MINUTES

February 14, 2006


M/S/C Dale, Winter to approve the minutes of February 14, 2006 as written.

AYES: Commissioners: Brink, Christ, Dale, Latourell and Winter

NOES: None

ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: None


C. CURRENT BUSINESS:

1. PUBLIC HEARING ON THE FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT AND PROJECT APPLICATIONS FOR THE WAL-MART SUPERCENTER PROJECT – 608 LUTHER ROAD; APN’s 033-180-08, 21, 26, 46, 47 AND 70; SCH NO. 2004012088T)

Recommendation: That the Planning Commission:

1. Conduct the Public Hearing.


2. Consider all public testimony and all other information relating to this project submitted to the Planning Commission.

3. If determined to be appropriate, direct staff to prepare the necessary Resolution(s) for Planning Commission consideration at the April 25, 2006 meeting with approval recommendations and conditions of approval to the City Council on the following project documents and applications:

· Certification of the Environmental Impact Report (SCH No. 2004012088)

· General Plan Land Use Map Amendment (GPA-03-002)

· Rezoning of the Zoning Map (REZ-194)

· Tentative Parcel Map (TPM-04-12)

· Administrative Use Permit (AUP-03-007)

· Design Review (DRG-04-02-15)

· Parking Space Reduction (PCA-05-001)

· Tree Replacement Plan (TRP-04-02-15)

4. Alternative Recommendations:

a. Continue the public hearing discussion of the Wal-Mart Supercenter EIR and project applications to a specific date to be determined and provide direction to staff as to specific information that the Planning Commission would like to be provided with to assist in review and consideration of the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter EIR and project applications; or

b. Continue the public hearing discussion of Wal-Mart Supercenter EIR and project applications to a specific date to be determined and direct the applicant to modify the project proposal; or

c. Recommend Certification of the Wal-Mart Supercenter EIR but denial of the project applications to the City Council; or

d. Recommend against Certification of the Wal-Mart Supercenter EIR and denial of the project applications to the City Council; or

e. Provide staff with other direction as determined to be appropriate by the Planning Commission.


Charlie Mullen, Planning Director, gave a brief description of the project and a power point presentation. There are some Blue Oaks that will be preserved along Luther Road, but some large heritage oaks will need to be removed. The applicant’s plans include a tree replacement plan. Mr. Mullen indicated that the EIR consultants Mark Teague of PMC and Paul Miller of Omni-Means were also present to answer questions.

Chairperson Brink requested that all pages and/or cell phones be turned off during the meeting. He also asked that all speakers limit their comments to 3 minutes and that speaks, if at all possible, not repeat statements that have already been made.

Shell MacPherson, PacLand, requested the right to address the publics concerns at the conclusion of the public hearing. He gave a brief recap of the proposal which includes the replacement of trees by a 3 to 1 ratio; signal improvements at Luther and Mill; traffic calming improvements for Reeds; seasonal sales area will be in the parking lot but used on a more limited basis than the one that is used at the current store location. This new location will not include the tire lube express, but will operate 24 hours per day. The existing store is under contract to be sold.

Mr. Mullen requested that all speakers treat everyone with respect and courtesy.

Chairperson Brink opened the public hearing at 7:08 p.m.

Joan Codner stated that she was impressed with the Wal-Mart Supercenter that they had visited and they live in the area of the proposed center and believe that the traffic issues have been addressed. She will continue to shop the small stores and feels that Wal-Mart puts a lot of people to work and give a lot back to the community.

Steve Codner stated that he was tired of paying high prices and that he had visited a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Salt Lake City and was very impressed by what he saw. He congratulated those involved with the clarity of the presentation.

Liz Merry, small business owner, stated that she also shops at Wal-Mart and that a lot of her customers are Wal-Mart employees. Her concern is with the location and the increased traffic and asked that they consider other sites.

Frank McCaughey stated that he was opposed to the center at the present location as it will create traffic problems for the surrounding roads that will be tied up with traffic.

Linda Bullock stated that this evenings meeting was not about the company but about the location. She did not understand the placement of the building in that area as there are surrounding churches and rest homes that will be affected by the added noise and lighting. She questioned Commissioner Dale if he should be making a decision on this item as his family had property that will be impacted by the project.

Commissioner Dale stated that the property Ms. Bullock was referring to belongs to an uncle and that he had no financial interest in the property, so he would be voting with a clear conscience.

Lana Kitchel stated that she respects the employees of Wal-Mart but that she had an issue with corporate greed. Does not understand why a supercenter is needed in Red Bluff when there is already one in Anderson.

Toby Gray, Wal-Mart Associate, stated that he was in favor of the Wal-Mart Supercenter. He had recently purchased items at Wal-Mart for a total of $60.91 and then compared that purchase to another local store’s prices and he found that he would have spent $104 for the same products had he purchased them at that location.

Lamar Bayles, Wal-Mart Associate, stated that he supports the Wal-Mart Supercenter as he feels that it will stop people from going out of town to shop and believes that Wal-Mart chose a good location for this supercenter.

Ermenia Lyons stated that her concern is the additional traffic that will be added to the area and that the current Wal-Mart has already affected her neighborhood by the Wal-Mart carts that are dumped there, the increased walking traffic and the increase in litter. She stated that she feels there could be another site better suited for this store and doesn’t agree that a big store belongs in a residential area.


Heather Igarta, Wal-Mart Associate, stated that she was in management with the store and that even though she was now teaching she still worked one day a week at Wal-Mart. The current store took in employees displaced when the mills closed. She supports the Wal-Mart Supercenter at this location and stated that if it was not located here that people would drive to Anderson and/or Willows to shop. Wal-Mart offers low prices and is a big part of the community by supporting it with grant money that has been given. If a Wal-Mart Supercenter is not allowed in Red Bluff people will have to drive to Anderson, Willows, Chico and/or Redding.

Ron Fortenberry, Pastor of local Church in area, stated that he had reviewed the final EIR and found that it looked like everyone on Luther Road, as well as the City, would benefit with this development. He stated that he is in favor of the project.

Matilde Williams stated that she did have concerns with traffic on Luther Road, but was in favor of the Wal-Mart Supercenter. She requested that a special lane be designated for motorized wheelchairs.

Harriett Baluk stated that she questioned the location as there is a big problem with transportation and the roadways. She questioned why they don’t just improve the current store and stated that she did not believe they needed a supercenter at that location.

John Gumm, business owner, questioned whether the infrastructure changes that need to be made will be done at the time of the project or will it be something that the citizens would have to pay for the improvements at a later date. He asked that a timeline be given for the infrastructure changes to be made by and stated that Main Street already had a problem with traffic.

Gary Ramsey, business owner, stated that the meeting was about the site and that he felt this was the worst location for this type development. He stated that a lot of the costs were being deferred to future dates and that the costs of construction will go up. The mitigations need to be done now, not later. He stated that people were still waiting for good streets in the downtown area and the City can’t keep up with maintenance of the current streets. He felt that people would get on the freeway to by pass traffic in this area, so they will by pass downtown. He stated that he felt that more research needs to be done and asked that Wal-Mart, if they really want to be a community leader, they consider another site for the project.

Joshua Potter, Wal-Mart Associate, spoke of the associate’s pride of ownership and thinks that the selected location is great as being in a residential area people will be able to walk to the store; high school students can obtain part-time employment. He felt that the speeding in the area had been addressed with the installation of stoplights as it will reduce the distance between stops.

Arturo Fregoso stated that he felt the location was too congested and questioned what Wal-Mart was going to do with the old store.

Charles Jackson questioned what the projection was for the increased traffic. He stated that he felt that with the number of businesses that have gone out of business that people here do not support their local stores. He hates to hear that Wal-Mart is running all the little business out, when the businesses that have gone out of business is because no one in Red Bluff will support the small businesses.

William Kopper, Attorney for Gary Ramsey and Frank McCaughey, submitted documents into the record and asked that the power point presentation also be made a part of the records since it was presented. He spoke in regards to urban blight, Wal-Mart employees using a large amount of public assistance and that there was no discussion of energy conservation in the EIR. He stated that studies show that for every Wal-Mart Supercenter that is opened there are usually 2 supermarkets that are closed. He stated that the site chosen is too small for the supercenter and that the parking is not sufficient and feels that the parking has not been addressed in the EIR.

John Elko stated that he too had been in two super stores and that they were not very attractive and that he did not like those that he had visited. He pointed out that the original Wal-Mart was open 24 hours a day when they first opened and then that was dropped and questioned how the public would know that this wouldn’t happen again. He questioned why the auto service was being dropped and what would happen to the old store.

Lance Hall, Wal-Mart Associate, stated that the store hours still had not been finalized so at this time it is unsure if the store would be open 24 hours. The original store did try to stay open 24 hours but that there was not enough business to warrant the 24 hour operation. He stated that it was apparent to him that the anti Wal-Mart people who had spoken have changed their tactics and decided to attack the location chosen. He continued by saying that if the Final DIR was read completely they would see that some of their questions were answered and that the EIR was paid for by Wal-Mart. He stated that businesses such as Wal-Mart are the back bone of America and that the University of California study was funded by labor unions. He stated that all of the road improvements are not Wal-Marts financial responsibility, that’s what taxes are supposed to go to. He finished by stating that the old building had already been sold.

Lupe Green stated that she supported the comments made by the other speakers regarding traffic issues and asked that the Planning Commission not approve the project as presented as it would not mitigate the traffic issues.

Richard Clapp stated that Wal-Mart is community minded, but will the prices stay low. He questioned who would be able to move in and compete with Wal-Mart and voiced his concerns regarding Wal-Mart having a monopoly. He stated that 600,000 Wal-Mart workers are without healthcare and women are suing over discrimination.

Alice Jackson stated that supercenters have their advantages and disadvantages and that she was disappointed that there would not be a tire and lube shop as many people buy their tires at Wal-Mart because there is a Wal-Mart in most towns. She questioned where the employees would park, as well as the “snow birds” with their big RV’s.

Ken Close stated that his wife was a Wal-Mart Associate and that employees can work their way up. He also stated that traffic in that area was already a problem before this supercenter was mentioned.

Sharon Kessey stated that she agreed with most of the comments opposing the project mostly because it was one of the green areas in the community and that she hated to see the open area developed. She felt that there had to be a better location.

Frances Smith stated that she was not against Wal-Mart building a supercenter but due to the traffic in the area already they should build it somewhere else.

William Kopper stated that no restriction on RV parking, so there would be RV’s taking up spaces, energy was not addressed, noise implications as big rigs would be using the loading docks at night so there would be an impact on the residents because of this noise. No consideration of the parking lot cleaning and the noise generated by the sweepers used to clean the parking lot. The final issue was the economic study and that the City had hired a consultant and when the City didn’t like what that consultant said they put in what the Wal-Mart consultants had to say.

William Arnold stated that he was concerned with traffic on South Jackson, that on Luther Road there was poor site distance and that Wal-Mart would just leave the old store vacant which has happened in other places.

Chairperson Brink closed the public hearing at 8:11 p.m.

Judy Davidoff, Wal-Mart Attorney, stated that a lot of the testimony heard was on the location and that the EIR did look at 4 different sites, but each one had different issues such as impacts of traffic, flood plain etc. Mr. Kopper has put in to evidence economic issues that pertained to Oklahoma and were not relevant to Red Bluff. The City did receive additional information and it was included in the draft. With respect to energy it was addressed in the EIR and she also stated that the old store had been sold.

Shell MacPherson stated that the truck loading bays face the east toward commercial property. They are below grade truck docks in which the trucks would backup to a sealing gasket, unhook and leave while the trailer is being unloaded, so they would not sit and idle. As he previously stated the docks would be below grade and behind a 10 foot retaining wall, so that the noise would not be an issue to the residents to the west or north. Other sites had been looked at but they were not the appropriate size and this site was in an exiting retail area. The existing store is under contract for sale pending approval of this supercenter.

Commission Latourell questioned the percentage of business that would be from local residents and the percentage coming from the freeway as out of town shoppers.

Mr. MacPherson stated that they could not sight the exact percentages, but this store is designed for the local community and the current store already has a strong customer base. They would try to target local business and that the store is designed as a community store.

Commissioner Latourell requested clarification on the statement of overriding consideration.

Mark Teague, PMC, stated that the statement of overriding considerations is the recognition that there are impacts that cannot be mitigated to a less than significant level and at that point the City as the lead agency has the ability to proceed with the project by stating that there are other reasons to approve the project that override the significant environmental impacts.

Mr. Mullen stated that the impacts that require a statement of overriding consideration are the two roadways and two intersections which are impacted with or without the project.

Commissioner Latourell stated that he had noticed that with the new store there were only 3 points of access, where the current location had 6 points of access and that his major concern was that this was a primary route for traffic to access the freeway and questioned the percentage of increased traffic. He also stated that this was a major route around Red Bluff if you didn’t want to go through and was concerned with the traffic that will be generated.

Mr. Mullen stated that the future growth of Red Bluff was taken into consideration and projected into the traffic model, which was why there were impacts. He stated that Luther Road is a bottleneck now, so the impact will be there with or without the new Wal-Mart store.

Commissioner Dale questioned if a traffic improvement plan was received by the City that contained information that a better route was needed.

Commissioner Latourell questioned the improvements on Vista Way.

Mr. Mullen stated that Vista Way was a future project and was not included in the Wal-Mart project. The mitigations impose have to have nexus to the project. There are improvements that will be made to South Main Street that this project will be making that will be a significant improvement to the road network for south Red Bluff and that at this time the City doesn’t have the funding to do it ourselves.

Commissioner Latourell requested clarifications on whether or not bike lanes would be included on Luther Road since there are a number of schools in the area.

Mr. Mullen stated that the City’s trail program adopted by the City and the County of Tehama did not call for the bike trail to extend down Luther to So. Main Street. The applicant will be responsible for the Reeds Avenue bike lane stripping.

Commissioner Latourell questioned whether or not improvements would be made at Mill and Reed Streets to accommodate the truck turning traffic.

Mr. MacPherson stated yes the roads would be improved to heavier standards on Mill and Reeds.

Commissioner Latourell requested clarification on how many cars could be held in queue between the turn lane into the facility and So. Jackson and whether the parking issues on Luther Road would be addressed or designated “No Parking Zones”.

Paul Miller, Omni Means, stated that he didn’t know the specific length of the pocket that is being proposed but it would be the common pocket length, which is 125 feet, eastbound towards Main and it would be a function of the cycle length traffic signal. At this time he did not know if the area on Luther Road would be no parking.

Mr. Mullen stated that the travel lane and eastbound westbound on Luther Road would have a center turn lane that would be approximately 400 feet.

Commissioner Dale stated that what impressed him was that the Traffic Study took into consideration the present Wal-Mart traffic and then put the new Wal-Mart traffic into this, so basically the Commission is studying the traffic of two Wal-Mart Stores.

Mr. Miller stated that was correct and that the approach was to take a conservative approach. Traffic counts were performed with the current Wal-Mart store and then the super store was added on top of this. There is no doubt that there will be congestion on Luther Road and the significant environmental impact comes from a daily level, not so much a peak hour level.

Commissioner Latourell requested clarification on the level of service which was currently a “C” and with the super store what the level of service would go to.

Mr. Miller stated that he believed that the level of service would go to an “E”, which is 5% above the daily threshold. He continued by saying that Luther and South Main would be congested, but the primary improvements are being identified on South Main Street, moving Montgomery Road, signalizing Montgomery Road, adding additional lanes to the south bound ramps, adding a right turn lane to the south bound ramp and then the requirement is the signal interconnect from Diamond all the way down to Liberty Medical. There will be significant increases that will be noticed once the project is complete, just moving Montgomery and signalizing that will provide significant improvements to the area.

Commissioner Christ stated that traffic is the key issue of this project and asked if the calming measures on Reeds Avenue could be addressed.

Mr. Mullen stated that flare outs was felt to be the most appropriate at this time.

Mr. Miller stated that both the flare outs and undulations have the same effect to slow traffic down. A flare out is where the street is narrowed by having trees and/or planters where it slows the traffic down.

Commissioner Latourell questioned if parking would be eliminated along Luther Road, between the project site and South Jackson.

Mr. Mullen stated there is the First Church of God on the north side, which parking is currently allowed and then on the south side is the Jackson Manor Apartments and parking is allowed there. Once you get to the west end of the property it changes to no parking going down past the Bethel Church and all the way down to Main Street. No changes in that area proposed.

Mr. Miller stated that he did not believe that there was room to allow parking along both sides of Luther Road.

Mr. Mullen stated that was correct that you would not be able to get two lanes of traffic and a center turn lane on Luther Road and allow parking on both sides of the street. In order to get some queuing into the left turn lane into the west driveway there will be removal of some existing on street parking.

Commissioner Christ questioned if there was a better way to get the trucks into the truck bay area than was proposed.

Mr. MacPherson stated that the truck route was down Luther Road, right on Mill, left on Reeds and then left into the truck bays.


Mr. Miller stated that there was not that much traffic at the intersection of Reeds and Mill, but the truck would have to wait for cars to move before they could turn into the truck bay area. The traffic volume on Reeds is very light and there is at least a two car queue. If this were on Luther Road it would create a gridlock situation, but on Reeds and Mill traffic is very light.

Commissioner Latourell requested clarification on the improvements to be made at Luther and South Jackson.

Mr. Mullen stated that under the TCIP the improvement is signalization.

Mr. Miller stated that they would be paying a fee into the TCIP for future development.

Commissioner Dale stated that basically the fee would be buying a signal light at that intersection.

Commissioner Latourell questioned if there was a specific fund set up to address the railroad overpass on Main Street.

Mr. Mullen stated that the Transportation Capital Improvement Plan has identified that as a project and with the transportation fees that would be collected a pool of money would be collected that would allow the City to decide if that would be a priority project.

Commissioner Christ requested clarification from City Attorney Rick Crabtree as to the CEQA issues raised by Mr. Kopper pertaining to energy.

Mr. Crabtree stated that CEQA did not require perfection. CEQA requires substantial compliance and he is satisfied that the documents presented affect substantial compliance according to CEQA and the energy component was addressed in the document and was determined not to be a significant issue in this project.

Commissioner Dale stated that he heard a comment that this was a commercial development and was not taking into account the residential neighbors. But this land is zoned commercial and it should not be a surprise to anyone in the neighborhood that this land would be used for commercial. He believes that the Wal-Mart Supercenter would benefit a number of residents especially the ones that can not travel out of town to buy products cheaper.

M/S/C Dale, Winter to direct staff to prepare the necessary Resolution(s) for Planning Commission consideration at the April 25, 2006 meeting with approval recommendations and conditions of approval to the City Council on the following project documents and applications:

· Certification of the Environmental Impact Report (SCH No. 2004012088)

· General Plan Land Use Map Amendment (GPA-03-002)

· Rezoning of the Zoning Map (REZ-194)

· Tentative Parcel Map (TPM-04-12)

· Administrative Use Permit (AUP-03-007)

· Design Review (DRG-04-02-15)

· Parking Space Reduction (PCA-05-001)

· Tree Replacement Plan (TRP-04-02-15)

AYES: Commissioners: Dale, Brink, Christ and Winter

NOES: Commissioner: Latourell

ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: None

Mr. Mullen stated that the next step would be that staff will bring back the appropriate enabling resolutions at the April 25, 2006 Planning Commission meeting which would be held in the City Council Chambers.

Chairperson Brink thanked everyone for attending the meeting.



C. STAFF ITEMS/REPORTS:

Mr. Mullen reported that at this time there was one item for the April 11, 2006 Planning Commission Meeting.

There being no further business Chairperson Brink adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m. to April 11, 2006 at 5:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,



Charlie Mullen

Planning Director