New Gateway proposal runs into some early discontent on Mission City Council

The latest Gateway design that has been received by the City of Mission.
The latest Gateway design is dominated by the Walmart and a parking structure.

The latest proposal for a new development on the Gateway property in Mission ran into some early opposition on the Mission City Council Wednesday night.

Councilors Dave Shepard and Amy Miller were the most outspoken in questioning the preliminary site plan that was approved by the city’s planning commission late last month. That site plan is expected to come to the city council for a vote on Oct. 21.

Shepard said some residents in his ward had questioned if the plan “truly rises” to the mixed use requirements. The land is zoned MXD or Planned Mixed Use District. The statement of intent for MXD in the zoning code speaks to buildings that “are intended to be primarily multi-story structures with differing uses rather than the horizontal separation of uses” that is more common.

The 150,000 square foot Walmart is now a one-story building in the new plan. In the 2012 plan, the Walmart had retail above it on a second story. A planning commissioner had asked about another provision in zoning code that limits the size of one-story discount or superstores. City staff response was that the plan qualified because the multi-story requirement was assessed for the development as a whole and not just the Walmart.

“Is this something the community wants,” Miller asked. Developer Tom Valenti has indicated he will ask for $29 million in public financing. However, Miller noted, if he doesn’t need the financing, he could build the project based on plan approval. “This seems a little final,” she said. “I am very uncomfortable with this.”

Shepard said the council had changed city ordinances 10 years ago to prevent a large single story discount store. “It’s still a big discount store in the middle of our city,” Miller said.

Shepard said he believed the planning commission had misinterpreted the restrictions on discount stores and the MXD requirements. He said it was different from the 2012 plan that he voted for and which also contained a Walmart, calling it a “Walmart and some apartments.”

“This plan will not have the spillover effect” of the 2012 plan he said.

Councilor Debbie Kring voiced concerns, saying the (community) vision does not align with the plan. She said the scale of the apartments has changed in the new version.

Mayor Steve Schowengerdt questioned what the council could do if the city land use attorney says it meets the requirements of the MXD zoning. Councilor Pat Quinn said the council would have to have a reason to vote it down.

The council asked to meet with its development attorney before the Oct. 21 meeting to clarify the point about the MXD requirements.

Even if the site plan is approved, the council will be asked to approve a development agreement which is likely to ask for the public financing support. That agreement has not been negotiated as yet.