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The struggles of developing along Highway 101

Proponents of Tractor Supply Co. say city has too many rules

A developer wants to build a 19,000-square-foot farm and gardens supply store along Highway 101 behind Les Schwab
By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, November 22, 2018

Developers of a farm and garden store off Highway 101 found themselves at odds with the city last week.

Trondheim Acres LLC, a partnership between Wes Giesbricht and Warrenton Fiber Co., owns the 16.5-acre property behind Les Schwab. The company seeks approval on a 2.7-acre portion of the site that would house the 19,000-square-foot Tractor Supply Co. store and become an anchor for the rest of the vacant land. Tractor Supply is a national retail chain based in Tennessee. The closest store to Warrenton is in Kelso, Wash.

“There are a number of fatal flaws with their application,” Community Development Director Kevin Cronin told Planning Commissioners Nov. 8. “Right now, it’s a recommended denial.”

Proponents of the Tractor Supply Co. project said they have a fundamental disagreement with how Cronin was interpreting city development rules.

“They’ve been trying to find a tenant for this property for years,” said Giesbricht, a partner in the project. “I think they’d be a great fit. In the past, we would have been approved without any issues. … Is Warrenton really open for business?”

The primary sticking points for the city are whether to make a street that bisects the property – on the maps but not yet built – a public or private throughway; whether the project meets architectural/design standards; and whether an outdoor sales area should be screened.

“If they’re not willing to compromise, that’s why we’re at an impasse,” Cronin said. “We have multiple development parcels here … and we’re trying to get ahead of the curve. Building something to a community standard is so important. That street is platted for a reason; it’s platted for future development.”

John Nygaard Jr. told commissioners it would be helpful if the city didn’t keep “moving goalposts at the last minute.”

Project proponents received a list of Cronin’s 13 modifications just two days before the hearing, Nygaard said.

“I didn’t see anything that was just so glaringly wrong with this project,” Commissioner Chris Hayward said.

After a stand-off during last week’s public hearing, planning commissioners instructed Cronin and the developers to meet again and work out a solution. A second hearing was scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 15, after press time.

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