La quinta residents angry about proposed gas station, grocery store electricity trading hubs

The residents argue that the Pavilion Palm Shopping Center development, proposed to be built at the northwest corner of Avenue 50 and Jefferson Street, across the street from a Ralph’s grocery store, will negatively impact their quality of life.

“We understand the concept of commercial development and know it’s zoned properly. But we have some very specific concerns about this particular developer and his plan.” said resident Tom Maydew during an interview. Maydew lives in the neighboring La Quinta Renaissance development.

On May 8, the La Quinta Planning Commission approved the project for recommendation to city council. However, it could go back to the planning commission for a second approval, if La Quinta City Council decides a re-vote is needed. The ethical soundness of the May 8 vote was called into question after Planning Commissioner Bob Wright, who voted to approve the project, was revealed to have received income from an organization that’s been involved in the project. The city will decide on Tuesday if Wright should have recused himself from the vote. The delay of a second vote means the council likely won’t hear a list of grievances during a public hearing until July.

The city has received proposals for similar projects on the land twice before – once in 1999 and again in 2002. Neither came to fruition, but the approvals still stand. The development would be slightly larger than the original proposals at near 125,000 square feet, with the grocery store snagging 63,000 square feet of that. The project includes a total of 12 buildings of varying size with a contemporary design style, as opposed to the Spanish style in the original plans.

“As you physically pump the gas, some of that gas goes into the air, and it’s very close to residential neighborhoods, and that’s our main concern, for our health and the impacts the gas will have on that,” Maydew said. “And I don’t necessarily want fast food nation down there either.”

Gabriel Perez, La Quinta planning manager, said a traffic analysis was conducted for the project and the developer will be required to build two left turn lanes at the intersection with Jefferson Street, in order to mitigate potential traffic increases on Avenue 50.

Residents also had complaints about the aesthetic of the gas station, but Perez said the developer will be required to add landscaping and berms along the perimeter of the gas station property to mitigate what some might consider unsightly views of the vehicles and fuel pumps.

In a letter to councilwoman Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Cenicola addressed many of his concerns. In it, he says, “Sit outside any mini-market on Hwy 111 and see how dirty, unkempt and the homeless that sit outside those buildings…THREE fast food drive-thru restaurants with no restrictions on heights and signs? Again Hwy 111, not our neighborhood. The look of this, the garbage, smell and the traffic…We certainly don’t need another large box supermarket. In the near future, groceries will be delivered by Amazon or Walmart anyway.”