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City sends Longs to drawing board

Grass Valley officials and one resident assured Longs Drugs Tuesday there will be high hurdles to jump before a new store is approved for the chain at Idaho-Maryland Road and East Main Street.

At a meeting of the city’s Design Review Committee, members Tony Rosas and Jason Fouyer both said the proposed 24-hour drive-through for the pharmacy would be a “hot topic,” because current zoning won’t allow it and a zoning change would be needed.

Fouyer and audience member Steve Enos also said the current design is too boxy and needs to be modified to reflect the city’s mining heritage.



“It’s another nondescript beige building,” said Enos, a professional planner and former City Council member. “This is also the wrong place, next to the roundabout,” which is under construction at the busy corner.

Perhaps the main sticking point for Longs at this juncture was the recommendation for a multi-use building by adding residences or offices on top of the building or alongside.




“Mixed-use would be a very difficult situation,” said Renata Tyler, design manager for Longs, adding it could kill the project if the city sticks with its recommendation. “We have no desire to build an additional office because we’ve never done it,” Tyler said.

Panel member Fouyer said the city is serious about the multi-use concept and told Tyler, “you will need to revisit that” before the design comes back to the panel in the near future. The final building plans also would have to be approved by the city’s Planning Commission and the City Council before it is built.

The design will have to be altered, “because it still looks like a box to me,” Fouyer said.

Committee member Trisha Tillotson said a preliminary traffic study for the proposed building of almost 16,000 square feet predicted impacts at the ramp areas of Idaho-Maryland Road, Railroad Avenue and the Golden Center Freeway, and for the corner of Mill and Main streets downtown.

Committee member Vern Canon said a 6-inch water main slated for the building will have to be increased to 8 inches to allow the sprinkler system inside the building’s storage area to function. The panel also told Longs representatives that two proposed signs facing the freeway will have to be scrapped.

“I think you have some challenges,” said City Architect Rosas to the Longs officials. “The drive-through is definitely a hot topic around here.”

Changing the zoning to get it would be ludicrous and set bad precedent, Enos said, particularly because the zoning Longs wants to amend is relatively new.

“They’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” Enos said. “It’s the iceberg we have to worry about.”

The panel also said an environmental review of the project would be done before ” and if ” it is passed on to the Planning Commission.

The proposed drugstore would go on property occupied for years by the Pardini family’s Hills Flat Lumber Co., which has moved to a hilltop location near the old site.

Local Realtor Ricki Heck is representing the Pardini family and said she has been working with them for nearly one year “in an effort to bring the best possible development to that prominent area of our community.”

The family is planning to retain the property and lease it to Longs for 50-plus years, Heck said.

“I would ask our elected and appointed officials, as well as the community, to withhold judgment in light of Mr. Enos’ negative remarks until the entire project is offered in its final, polished form,” Heck said in a statement to The Union after the meeting. “I believe the project by Longs and the Pardinis will be thoughtful (and) appropriate to the challenging site.”

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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