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WinCo appeal settled with word change

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An appeal of a new WinCo store in Albany, which has delayed progress on the development for more than two months, has been resolved, and the solution was simply to modify the language of a staff report on the approval of the commercial building.

“Spandrel glass” was changed to “frosted glass” in that document.

Melissa Anderson, Albany city planner, said she didn’t know the difference between frosted glass and spandrel glass, and that the city uses those terms as synonyms.

Sean Kidd, city attorney, said the modification seemed a bit like splitting hairs.

“The petitioner had reached out to the applicant to possibly get it settled, and that’s what they came up with,” he said.

“The language changes, I’m not sure what prompted that and how they came to that decision, but it is a little unusual. From the city’s standpoint, we were glad they could get it resolved. We’re looking forward to WinCo coming in,” Kidd added.

WinCo intends to demolish the old Kmart building, 3100 Pacific Blvd. S.E., and construct a new 86,600-square-foot commercial building and parking lot. Kmart closed its Albany store in September 2014, and the building has been vacant since then.

City staff approved WinCo’s application on Nov. 25.

The decision was appealed on Dec. 16 by Albany resident Valerie Wilson and Kevin Billman, the staff director for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555, which represents 20,000 workers in Oregon and southwest Washington. Wilson later dropped out of the appeal.

WinCo is a nonunion, employee-owned store.

At the center of the appeal was whether a frosted glass pane constitutes a window. Albany’s development code requires that WinCo provide windows on the rear of the building, as it is adjacent to a sidewalk on Killdeer Avenue. City staff interpreted that the code allows for frosted, or spandrel, glass in those windows.

After a briefing on the appeal, the parties agreed to a stipulated motion for voluntary remand.

On Feb. 22, the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals granted the motion and issued a notice of remand, sending the approval back to the city of Albany for changes.

The city of Albany sent those changes back to LUBA and all participating parties on Monday.

“There is a 21-day appeal period. The appeal is limited to the changes related to the frosted glass. After the 21-day appeal period is complete, LUBA would issue a final order closing the case,” Anderson said.

WinCo can apply for building permits at any time, and Anderson expected the company would at some point in the near future. The grocery store chain also could pull a demolition permit for the building before the appeal is finalized, Anderson added.

Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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