Updated at 5pm Thursday
The Petaluma Planning Commission denied the proposed changes to Regency Centers Target center, after the new plan failed to receive the four votes necessary for approval Tuesday night.
Commissioners Dennis Elias, Jennifer Pierre and Bill Wolpert voted for the plan, but Commission Chair Curtis Johansen voted against it. Meanwhile Commissioners Melissa Abercrombie and Alicia Kae Herries recused themselves from voting citing a "smart-development" petition they had signed several years ago.
Also absent was City Councilmember Chris Albertson who is a city liason on the Planning Commission and supports the Target project. Albertson is currently on vacation.
Johansen said he could not support the project because he was "a devout advocate for the general plan.”
The general plan classifies the site as “mixed-use,” meaning it could be a mix of retail and another property type—generally office or housing—although whether the general plan implies that the space can be all retail has been an ongoing issue for the city.
Regency recently to the layout and size of buildings at the Target center, by consolidating retail space to accommodate new tenants that were in final negotiations to sign leases. Under the new plan, there would be fewer buildings, but they would be larger. The overall square footage would not change.
One of the tenants was revealed to be T.J. Maxx Home Goods, which sells clothing and home appliances, while the others were described only as a national “farm fresh” grocery chain and a national sporting good chain. Regency said it could not reveal names because negotiations were still being finalized.
The modifications to the buildings would decrease some pedestrian space, as well as place parking in areas the commission felt were unsafe.
“I think the community’s been tricked,” said Commissioner Elias. “I don’t consider these minor modifications, and they are substantial in their nature.”
Tenancy issues, parking and the number of trees were some the commissioners’ biggest concerns with the new changes during the meeting, which was mostly cordial. One moment of the process became a little contentious when Elias responded to a Regency representative who said he needed to meet high returns for the site.
“Your concern is not about Petaluma but about your shareholders,” Commissioner Elias said. “Our responsibility is for the highest return for this city.”
Despite the failure for approval, Regency can still appeal the commission’s decision and receive an audience with the City Council, which may or may not still approve the change. The project was approved last July.