The Red Apple Pavilion, a new shopping center across from Walmart, will move forward after the Tehachapi City Council on Monday night approved the project.
“We are a city and we are promoting growth within the city. We are not growing just to grow. We are growing with a purpose,” City Manager Greg Garrett said.
He added, “People have a right to develop and we have a right to control or regulate that based upon who we answer to. We all answer to the citizens of this great city, but also to the region.”
The project moved forward with a 4-0 vote; new Councilman Michael Davies recused himself from voting.
Residents spent more than $200 million outside the city last year, which is a loss of sales tax revenue for the city. Those funds, if captured by Tehachapi, could help maintain and further the city's quality of life, added Garrett.
Frontier Real Estate Investments can now subdivide the retail development located on 13.94 acres of land at the corner of Tucker Road and Red Apple Avenue into six parcels and erect 10 buildings.
Six buildings would be built in a row at the west side of the property, with four other standalone buildings, with two known fast-food eateries — Panda Express and Carl’s Jr. — on the eastern side of the property.
This construction will be in two phases. The first phase will develop buildings and properties on the east side of the land, while the six other buildings will be built at a later time. The project would include two driveways from Red Apple Avenue, according to documents from the Dec. 10 Tehachapi Planning Commission agenda.
Planning for the development started more than 20 years ago.
The Tehachapi Planning Commission adopted a resolution Jan. 23, 1996 to annex the property into the city, with commercial zoning; the location is bordering county lines.
Councilman Kenneth R. Hetge questioned whether the public had received enough information on the impacts the project would have on nearby residents and neighborhoods, traffic congestion and other concerns.
“As a council we need to make absolutely sure that our community has been able to voice their concerns," Hetge said. "We understand the impact that it may have on them, as a council, not a Planning Commission, and make sure we are doing the right thing. I’m not necessarily against this subdivision, but its complicated and Tucker Road is getting more complicated every day."
Hetge added that Tehachapi Planning Commission meetings usually have low attendance and that a small mention in the local newspaper is not enough to include the public.
Jay Schlosser, development services director for the city, said that all residents within 300 feet of the project received notification, the project had been in discussion for more than 10 years starting in 1996 and it was advertised in the local newspaper. The project was approved by the Tehachapi Planning Commission at the Dec. 10 meeting, to make a decision on the development, before the issue came to the City Council.
Formal documents for the development have been drafted to meet Tehachapi General Plan and California code requirements.
“We did a complete environmental impact report for this project, which included a very sizeable traffic study to consider the complete development and impacts of the complete development of congestion of that area and mitigation measures as there were with the Walmart project," Schlosser added.
Some residents want the small-town atmosphere of the city to remain, while others want to see development in the city.
Susan Tintorri, a resident in the city, said, “You are kind of missing the point of the small-town atmosphere in Tehachapi, which is one of the reasons why I moved here.”
She added that most of Tehachapi has older citizens who wish to retire here and they possibly do not want the city to grow, with large corporations moving in.
Nichole Hamblin, a resident in Oak Knolls, said that many travel to Bakersfield or Lancaster to buy items that can’t be accessed in Tehachapi.
"Cities change and they grow," Hamblin said. "I’m not retired and I’m raising my amazing family here and I want the benefits... I’m not saying we bring in every retailer or every store, but don’t kid yourself if you are not going down the hill to go shopping.”
More public comments from the community were received and recorded in documents from the Dec. 10, 2018 Tehachapi Planning Commission and can be accessed here: liveuptehachapi.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12102018-68