Jun 27, 2012 2:16 AM by Hope Hanselman, KSBY News

Walmart coming to Atascadero

Atascadero residents will see a Walmart and shopping center built in Atascadero.

City councilmembers voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the plans that have been the center of controversy for six years.

More than 100 community members gathered at Atascadero City Hall for a chance to speak on the issue.

In the past six years, the council says they've held 16 meetings about the plans.

Some residents say it's time to start breaking ground.

"Many of us shop in Paso Robles and as many of us say, when we go to Paso Robles to shop, we eat there too in restaurants there. With San Luis Obispo, we do the same thing," Constantine Santos, of Atascadero, said.

An environmental impact report shows residents spend $117 million outside of the city each year.

"These can be dollars that the city could capture here in the community so our project can be part of the solution," said Amelia McLear, Walmart Public Affairs.

Council members say the project will up revenue by more than $500,000 a year. It will also bring in 300 more jobs.

But it all comes at a price.

"The way they're planning on approving the Walmart-Annex project is going to put a multi-million dollar burden on the city's businesses and homeowners," said David Broadwater, of Atascadero.

City planners say roadwork around the project could cost $4.5 million dollars. Of that, Walmart and the Annex Shopping Center will pay about half.

"But the city will have to front millions of dollars and then they're talking about digging into the sewer fund and raising traffic impact fees to compensate for lack of money," Broadwater said.

In towns around the Central Coast, however, Walmart has been linked with expansion.

"Paso Robles is thriving," Santos said. "You go downtown Paso Robles, it's a beautiful town, restaurants, wineries you name it."

Councilmembers say the majority of the community is in favor of the project.



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