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Walmart store pulled off Planning Commission agenda

Posted: January 14, 2013 4:24 p.m.
Updated: January 14, 2013 5:12 p.m.

A Walmart Neighborhood Market proposed for Westfield Valencia Town Center has been pulled off city planners’ agenda for Tuesday night at the request of the mall.

A letter from Westfield to Santa Clarita dated today asks for a continuance on the issue because a report from city staff recommended the Planning Commission deny the market request.

“The first staff report recommended approval of the Development Review Permit with certain considerations of approval; this was consistent with our conversations with city staff over the past eight months,” the letter reads. “However, the second version of the staff report changed course and recommended denial.”

The staff recommendations were dated Jan. 7 and Jan. 9, respectively, according to the Westfield letter.

City officials, however, say the only official recommendation was for denial because Westfield declined to comply with three conditions for approval set forth by the city.

Those conditions involve architectural changes to keep the building in line with current community aesthetics, along with safe and easy pedestrian and shopping cart access between the proposed store and the lower parking near Sears. The city requested no elevated loading bays.

Response to the planned Wal-Mart grocery story in the Patios area of the mall raised a great deal of criticism from local residents.

Walmart Neighborhood Markets were launched by the nation’s largest retailer in 1998 as a scaled-back version of its mega-stores, designed to be accessed quickly by shoppers.

Since the zoning that allows a mall at the Valencia location also allows for a grocery store, the city can’t simply ban grocery store use at the Patios section of Valencia Town Center, the newest part of the mall to be constructed, city officials said.

As long as Westfield meets development standards set for by the city — issues that include public safety, traffic and aesthetics — a grocery store is “permitted by right,” said Jessica Frank of the city's Planning Department.





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