The Warrenton Planning Commission took less than a half hour Thursday night to grant their final approval of the plans to build a 153,000 square foot Walmart store in the North Coast Business park fronting highway 101 and Ensign Lane. Commissioner Henry Balensifer told KAST News following that meeting that the permit was rejected by the commission on a three to two vote initially because he felt that more might be asked of the developer in terms of the overall design and the landscaping proposed by the developer to partially mask the rear of the building that would front the highway.
The developer, Pac Land, did go back to the drawing board following the October 25th planning commission meeting when the commissioners objected to the initial design the company presented. The concerns were about a wall that the company proposed to place between the highway and the rear of the store to mask the loading dock facilities planned there. Commission President Paul Mitchell remarked that together with the building design the wall made the development look more like a prison than a retail store. There was also concern regarding the choice of trees for landscaping to screen the wall.
In the new version, approved by the commission, the developer brought back some nicer looking building features including some cultured stone that would be placed below window-like treatments with iron awnings. The design team lowered the rear highway facing wall and showed a drawing with more trees native to the area with the intent of planting more mature trees to more fully screen the wall.
Balensifer told KAST news it was his opinion before that first vote that if the permit were rejected the commission could work with the project a bit more, even though he said the developer clearly had exceeded minimum standards. When it was pointed out that the company had in fact exceeded designed standard minimums twice over and after further consideration commissioners changed their minds and passed the application. In the second round of voting the commission voted separately on the principal issues passing an acception on the number of bike racks required by city code, approved moving the lot lines of the properties involved to allow for the building to be sited east from the highway with the parking lot on that facing east side. The plan also calls for parking lot landscaping and a traffic control for what will become the intersection between the lots for Costco and the Walmart store. The final vote was on the overall design which passed in the second round.
Next up the matter will go before the Warrenton City Commission for final consideration.