Local News: Astoria City Council says no to Grocery Outlet proposal
The Astoria City Council said no last night to the Grocery Outlet project that had been proposed for a triangular-shaped plot of land on Marine Drive next to the Shell station, in the Mill pond neighborhood on the city’s east end.
The council denied the project by upholding an earlier denial of the proposed store by the city’s design review commission. Both the Design Review Commission and the City Council referred to city code in their denials, saying the project did not meet standards for a business that would be part of a gateway district of the community, easily visible to visitors entering the city on Marine Drive.
Councilor Joan Herman summarized her views on the project:
Joan Herman: “I like Grocery Outlet a lot. They have a great business model and I’d love to see them in Astoria. But as presented, the plans, as we discussed at our last meeting, at least in my opinion, do not meet within our development code. And from where I sit, we don’t have a choice about whether to follow the development code. I’m in this seat, and was sworn to uphold our city laws and that’s why I voted against the appeal.”
The council voted unanimously to uphold the Design Review Commission’s denial. The denial means the project is over from the city planning perspective. If Grocery Outlet wants to pursue a store on that property, it would have to take up the matter with the state land use board of appeals.
In other council business, the city gave its second stamp of approval to the Fort George Brewery, for a fifteen-year, long-term rural enterprise zone abatement, as provided under Oregon state law. The company, acting as Big Beams, LLC, is seeking the abatement to develop the former Astoria Warehousing property on Marine Drive.
The city of Astoria previously gave its approval to the project, along with the City of Warrenton, the Port of Astoria, and Clatsop County. Together these four entities comprise the Clatsop County Enterprise Zone and their approval was needed to proceed with the tax abatement process.
With those approvals in place, the city took enterprise zone status a step closer to final approval by giving their approval again, as the city in which the enterprise zone project will be sited. Fort George now needs one more additional approval from the Clatsop County Commission, representing the county in which the project is situated.
Councilor Roger Rocka reminded the audience that the term tax abatement in this case only refers to taxes on improvements to the property and not to ongoing property taxes on the lots, which would continue to be paid by Fort George as the owners of the land.