Despite adverse economic conditions and its stalled build-out, Gateway Shopping Center’s adjacent — big brother — Gateway 2 Project has on April 8 begun its Draft: Environmental Impact Report (EIR) period of public comment. This public comment period will last only 45 days, until May 24.

This new Gateway 2 Project is three times the size of the Gateway Shopping Center, at 154 acres, and intended to include: several hotels and restaurants, three big-box stores with their usual entourage of smaller retail outlets, an auto-mall, movie theaters, and 800,000 square feet of office space.

“The purpose of the Draft EIR,” states its official notice, “is to provide the public and City of Woodland decision makers with information about the effects which the proposed project is likely to have on the environment, to list ways in which the significant effects of the Project might be minimized, and to indicate alternatives to the project.”

The Development Agreement for Gateway Shopping Center, negotiated by the City Council, was obviously — a real sweet-heart deal — for Paul Petrovich, regarding an essential mitigation measure connected to its officially determined “effects” of continuing Woodland’s historical retail sprawl — referred to as “urban decay” within planners’ jargon.

Petrovich was given — six and a half years — by the City Council to produce compensatory benefit within Woodland’s downtown: His totally discretionary development of anything whatsoever — assessed at $3 million — or else, he would default and pay the City about a million dollars.

For several years, due to another of Woodland’s historical maladies: Inadequate community information; downtown’s supporters incorrectly believed that Petrovich would eventually pay a million dollars to help advance efforts to remove some of downtown’s prodigious blight (“urban decay”).

Petrovich decided, unfortunately and with cooperation of City Council, to acquire the NW corner of Main and East Streets, longtime site of Huber’s Texaco, removing it with the plan of installing a strip-mall style Rite-Aid store at the precise location where Woodland’s Downtown Specific Plan strongly indicates should exist: “The Primary Gateway into Woodland’s Downtown Area.”

This site has for some time been vacant and fenced-off; while, Woodland’s City Manager confirms that a Rite-Aid store, indeed, is due to proceed at some time in the future.

____  Wiseman Building vs Stupidman Building  ____

This aesthetically unbalanced, hugely detrimental result has one side of downtown’s Primary Gateway displaying the Wiseman Building, plus the massive new county courthouse complex. While, the other side — Petrovich’s side of the street — features the ‘Stupidman Building,’ Petrovich’s one-story, cookie-cutter Rite-Aid.

Woodland’s Downtown Specific Plan declares that extending architectural and historical themes of the (renovated) multi-story Rice Mill Building (located between Court and North Streets) is its “vision.” However, Petrovich discovered a slight loophole within the Plan and unwisely exploited it — against the civic / public interest.

Instead of improving Woodland’s downtown, intended to be the goal of mitigation measures connected with the Development Agreement for Gateway Shopping Center, Petrovich remains clearly on target to severely injure and disfigure our downtown — with key help from the City Council — which badly negotiated basic matters of community interest, and then utterly failed to protect Woodland’s Downtown Specific Plan.

This Rite-Aid is wrong for Woodland. This prime location is the Primary Downtown Gateway — that may get away – because of council mismanagement.

Leaving aside Gateway 2, some manner of civic persuasion should be applied against Petrovich’s impending Rite-Aid intrusion upon Woodland’s downtown.

Petrovich, however, wants to begin Gateway 2 (which dwarfs its little brother, Gateway 1) and its EIR under the state Environmental Quality Act is currently in preparation.

Now is the time — within its public comment period — for community members to express their profound and timely concern about this subject, demanding that Petrovich’s yet un-built Rite-Aid site be made to conform with Woodland’s Downtown Specific Plan — as an un-negotiable term within any Development Agreement for Gateway 2.

Please contact Woodland’s — Community Development Department — to register your comments within the EIR process for Petrovich’s Gateway 2 proposal.