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Atascadero Walmart project moving forward 

This rendering shows what was approved by the Atascadero City Council in 2012.

This rendering shows what was approved by the Atascadero City Council in 2012.

Plans for on-site grading and off-site roadway improvements were submitted Tuesday

–More than a decade in the making, the Atascadero Walmart project is moving forward. On Tuesday the company officially submitted plans for grading and on- and off-site improvements.

“We’re excited it’s official,” Atascadero City Manager Rachelle Rickard said at Tuesday’s Atascadero City Council Meeting.

The submittal is now going through plan check; once approved by the city the plans will be available for viewing by the public.

Rickard said that the final map is anticipated to be completed by Walmart and taken back to the council in May or June for approval. The council approved a tentative map in 2012.

This is the approved site plan for Walmart and the surrounding sites.

This is the approved site plan for Walmart and the surrounding sites.

“The final map, if it substantially conforms to the tentative map, if they haven’t made a lot of changes, the council has to say yes, they can’t say no,” Rickard said.

Once the final map is approved, Walmart could possibly start breaking ground in mid-summer. Rickard said that while Walmart will have the ability to get started that quickly, the city has not heard what Walmart’s plans are. She added that the plans submitted thus far are only for site improvements, not for the building. She said that there is a lot of dirt to move on the site before construction can even start and is not sure of the timeline to construction of the building.

The project has been controversial from the get-go. The project was first brought to the council by The Rottman Group in early 2005 after it gained ownership of parcels on three of four corners at Del Rio Road and El Camino Real. In mid-2006, Walmart purchased 26 acres on the corner directly across El Camino Real from Mission Outlets.

An anti-Walmart group formed almost immediately, opposing a Walmart going into Atascadero for a myriad of reasons. Even after the city council approved the project and environmental impact report after years of work in 2012, Save Atascadero, the group that opposed a Walmart being built in Atascadero that was previously known as Oppose Walmart, sued the city in August 2012, saying in a lawsuit that the “project’s EIR violated the information disclosure requirements of CEQA by failing to adequately identify, evaluate and/or require mitigation for all direct, indirect and cumulative environmental impacts the project will foreseeably cause.” Save Atascadero also contended that the city’s approval “violated the state planning and zoning law … on grounds the city’s actions are plainly inconsistent with governing land use goals and policies …”

City of Atascadero Planning posted this photo on its Facebook page Tuesday with the caption: "BREAKING.. We have an official submittal for grading and roadway construction for Atascadero's Walmart. These plans are officially under plan check. No longer a question of if.. But when!"

City of Atascadero Planning posted this photo on its Facebook page Tuesday with the caption: “BREAKING.. We have an official submittal for grading and roadway construction for Atascadero’s Walmart. These plans are officially under plan check. No longer a question of if.. But when!”

San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Crawford denied the lawsuit. Save Atascadero appealed the ruling and an appeal hearing was held on May 30, 2014. The California Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city and upheld the previous ruling in July 2014. The plaintiff had until mid-August 2014 to file an appeal to the California State Supreme Court and failed to do so.

According to previous plans for the Walmart Supercenter, the proposed structure will be no more than 123,112 square feet of indoor retail space and 65,000 square feet of outdoor garden center. The plans also include the possible addition of 10,000 square feet of stand-alone retail space and 44 multi-family residential units.

At the meeting in June 2012, the then-community development director, Warren Frace, said that the entire project, when it is completely built out, will increase the city’s net revenues by $530,000 per year. After the 2012 council approval, the city did the interchange improvements at Del Rio Road and El Camino Real.

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