Local News

Tuesday, Jan 22 2008 12:53 AM

WinCo Foods may open in southwest

BY JENNY SHEARER, Californian staff writere-mail: jshearer@bakersfield.com

Farmland in southwest Bakersfield may one day house a WinCo Foods and other retailers.

The proposed shopping center, dubbed Silver Creek Plaza, would be on the southwest corner of Ashe Road and Panama Lane.

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But first, lengthy environmental documents have to be reviewed. The project's draft environmental impact report is now online.

Potentially significant impacts include traffic, air quality, biological resources and hydrology and water quality.

The report's adequacy will be considered at the Feb. 7 Bakersfield Planning Commission meeting.

If commissioners agree the report is adequate, the shopping center would be considered for a general plan amendment and zone change -- from low-density residential to commercial -- in March, said Maurice Etchechury, project engineer. Ultimately, the City Council would review the project.

But if the report is deemed inadequate, the massive report would return to consultants for revisions.

The vice chairman of the Kern-Kaweah Chapter of the Sierra Club hadn't read the full report but said Monday he had concerns about air pollution and greenhouses gases from the project. Gordon Nipp would like to see the center feature solar energy technology and be designed to encourage walking.

"We support having commercial mixed in with housing so people don't have to drive so far to do shopping," Nipp said.

The proposed center would have approximately 137,600 square feet of retail in a "soft, Mediterranean style, which will blend in with neighboring tracts," according to the report.

WinCo would be the largest tenant. Others would include a drug store with a drive-through pharmacy, fast-food restaurants and service-oriented businesses, such as a sandwich shop, salon or dry cleaners, according to the report.

Calls to an Orange County-based project representative weren't returned Monday.

The February hearing will be the project's second appearance before the commission.

Opposition surfaced at a 2007 hearing when it was suggested the project needed more environmental study than was proposed. City planning staff and the developer pulled back and decided to do an environmental impact report, said Marc Gauthier, one of the city's principal planners.

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