MAC attack: North Auburn panel ready to consider Wal-Mart, Costco plans

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The debate over a Wal-Mart-Costco-type store in North Auburn is set to heat up again at a public hearing Tuesday. The North Auburn Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) will hold a special meeting on the Bohemia development project at 7 p.m. in the Planning Commission chambers, 3091 County Center Drive. Located north of the Luther Road-Highway 49 crossroads, the project has drawn fire from neighbors – first for a Canal Street access point that was subsequently withdrawn – and for the impact of the project on traffic, competing businesses and its sheer size. Roseville developer Jim Conkey is proposing a 155,000-square-foot big-box development. That could mean Wal-Mart, Costco or another store but the actual site occupant has yet to be identified. Conkey said nothing has been decided yet. Conkey has held the 16-acre property – formerly the site of the Bohemia lumber mill – for more than 20 years. He’s saying the project will bring jobs and has gone far enough with concessions to opponents. While zoning is already in place, the project needs a use permit and environmental clearances. The advisory council makes recommendations but no decisions on planning projects. The project’s environmental impact report is slated to be heard July 8 by the county Planning Commission Much of the opposition comes from the Alliance for the Protection of our Auburn Community Environment. The group has established a Facebook page against the development with nearly 550 members and is pushing for a mixed-use development they say is more in keeping with the neighborhood. The alliance group contends a big-box store would have long-term negative impacts on the Canal Street neighborhood and competing businesses in the Auburn area. – Gus Thomson