Planning Board splits on Kohl’s hours, Safeway deliveries; drops pot club ban
The Planning Board voted to allow the Alameda Towne Centre Kohl’s to expand its holiday hours but denied the center’s Safeway store the right to start receiving earlier-morning deliveries in a pair of unanimous decisions Monday night (and they were all there by the way, for the first time in recent memory).
Board members who were angered by what they deemed Safeway’s defiance of rules restricting truck delivery hours denied the store’s request to receive deliveries as early as 4 a.m., and also asked city staff to look into creating fines for businesses that flout those rules.
“We should consider monetary fines if (businesses) don’t comply with their conditions of approval. Because what we have right now is not working,” Board member Rebecca Kohlstrand said after board members and residents who opposed the store’s request said that police, neighbors and mall management had all asked Safeway’s management to abide by the rules.
Todd Paradise, the store’s real estate manager, said the store would take deliveries from smaller vendors driving vans and box trucks that he said would make less noise during the earlier hours. He said the store would be willing to test the expanded hours out on a trial basis to see if things could work out.
But neighbors said the store has been taking deliveries at all hours without permission, including deliveries from 18-wheelers, despite being asked by neighbors, police and mall management to abide by the rules. And they said 4 a.m. is too early for trucks.
Planning Services Manager Andrew Thomas said the Community Development Department got 73 letters and e-mails from neighbors who opposed the earlier delivery hours.
The board’s decision follows decisions in November and December to extend truck delivery hours for five businesses, including Safeway, whose managers requested the right to take deliveries at 6 a.m.
Meanwhile, the board okayed a revamped use permit for Kohl’s allowing the store to extend its hours during the holidays. The changes would allow the store to open between 6 a.m. and midnight between November 1 and January 1 and earlier on the Friday after Thanksgiving and the Saturday before Christmas. The store would also be allowed to open early for one “sales tax holiday” outside the holidays.
Staff submitted the request, which was above and beyond what Kohl’s management had asked for, in order to clarify what they said were a series of confusing and possibly conflicting decisions by the Planning Board and City Council on Kohl’s hours. But they also asked the board to consider revoking the store’s use permit for extended hours entirely, saying a resident had submitted evidence that they had broken the terms of the permit.
Apparently, Kohl’s opened at 6 a.m. at least two days in November when they weren’t supposed to, in violation of the permit. And a resident submitted receipts to show purchases they had made during those hours.
But board members opted not to vote for revocation, after the store’s new manager told them she was unaware she was breaking the rules. Staff submitted a September 30 letter from Kohl’s requesting the 6 a.m. openings, but they apparently never passed the request on to the board or the council.
Before approving the changes, the board bounced around the idea of altering the number of days the store would be allowed to extend its hours during the holidays, which were variously described as 36 days, 24 days, or 62 days depending on how all the decisions on the store’s hours are interpreted. But that idea frustrated some board members who wanted to go with the staff recommendation.
“I just don’t know why we’re dicking around with this,” Board member Patrick Lynch said before Vice President Art Autorino moved to approve the staff recommendation.
In other news, the board voted 7-0 not to recommend the City Council adopt an ordinance banning medical marijuana dispensaries, which city staff were recommending. The board also decided to ask the council to consider having staff draft an ordinance to allow dispensaries here.
Board members said they want more information on the dispensaries and that they’re interested in exploring whether clubs could be sited and governed here in town. But they said they want to know whether the City Council will consider allowing the clubs before getting to work on creating rules to allow the clubs.
All the staff reports, letters and what have you are here.