An appeal has been filed for the Westfield Valencia Town Center expansion, requiring an additional public meeting by the Santa Clarita City Council, officials said Wednesday.
The appeal, on behalf of the organization Santa Clarita Safe and Strong, was filed on Jan. 31 and noted the Valencia mall expansion could impact “traffic, noise, air quality, soil quality, groundwater quality, health and safety” in the area, according to Santa Clarita City Hall documents.
On Jan. 21, the Santa Clarita Planning Commission approved the Patios Connection project, which includes a Costco, luxury cinema, gym and gas station, according to City documents.
The expansion proposed for the Westfield Valencia Town Center would require demolishing the 128,558-square-foot building previously occupied by Sears and constructing a 153,930-square-foot Costco.
The Valencia mall expansion would also include a 30-pump automobile fuel sales use, a 34,185-square-foot health and fitness center, a 32,000-square-foot cinema, 7,434 square feet of retail/restaurant use and a 2,138-square-foot expansion of the existing Canyon music venue, according to City officials.
“Westfield is proud of the Patios Connection project and appreciates the broad-based community support we’ve received. We look forward to sharing our plans at the upcoming City Council meeting, and look forward to a robust conversation about the added community benefits of the project,” said John Musella, spokesperson for Westfield Valencia Town Center.
Musella noted the support of several business groups and over 100 residents speaking in favor of the project at the planning commission hearing. In addition, nearly 500 supporter cards, comment cards, emails and letters of support were received by the City.
“Over the last year, we’ve worked closely with local community groups and are proud of their public support of the Patios Connection project,” Musella said.
After the approval by the planning commission, there was a 15-day appeal period before construction could commence, according to Jason Crawford, marketing and economic development manager for the City.
“There was an appeal filed listing several reasons,” Crawford said. “The appeal is going to be heard at a future City Council meeting.”
The appeal was filed by Tal Finney on behalf of Santa Clarita Safe and Strong, an unincorporated association of residents of the City of Santa Clarita and the Valencia community, according to the document.
“The group is comprised of residents that live in the neighborhood directly across from the proposed site,” Finney said. “Several of the members attended the recent Planning Commission hearing and felt that they were not heard and their concerns were not addressed.”
The legal challenge outlines several concerns on the environmental impact and alleges the initial studies did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, according to the appeal.
“For example, vehicles were routinely repaired in the Sears automotive center. This may have led to oil, antifreeze and other toxins and carcinogens being deposited into the soil,” the appeal reads. “These toxins may be disturbed during demolition, regrading of the soil and construction of the new facilities.”
Additionally, the proposed construction of a 30-pump Costco gasoline fueling station at the project site is expected to involve the insertion into the ground of gasoline storage tanks, according to the document.
“These actions present significant public safety issues. None of these impacts is properly mitigated in the initial study,” the appeal alleges.
The appeal further raises concerns on the additional need for parking, which Westfield has stated is adequate for the project.
There are expected to be 275 additional spots on top of the proposed Costco, at the same level as the current Patios.
On weekends during the peak holiday season, Thanksgiving to New Years, employees are also expected to park offsite — adding an estimated 300 spaces, according to Westfield.
The Santa Clarita Unified Development Code requires 4,110 parking spaces at the subject property. The project site currently has 4,343 spaces, which is a 233-space surplus, according to the appeal.
However, the UDC requires five parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of new commercial space, the document reads.
This would require an additional 506 spaces for the project, bringing the total parking requirement for the subject property to 4,616 spaces — over 600 spaces less than the proposed 3,952, according to the appeal.
The legal document also encourages the Santa Clarita City Council to have further environmental studies conducted before going back to the City for approval.
The appeal is expected to be discussed at a future City Council meeting, not determined as of Wednesday.Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking KHTS Santa Clarita News Alerts delivered right to your inbox. Report a typo or error, email Corrections@hometownstation.com
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