Lexington's Urban County Planning Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to approve the final development plan for an expanded Kroger on Euclid Avenue.
The approval disappointed opponents who argued that the proposed store was too big. They pleaded for the commission to reject or delay approval of the development plan.
Before the vote, Kate Savage said she felt that the planning commission "rubber stamped" proposals and did not take into account the concerns of neighborhood residents.
"I am really disillusioned at the amount of attention that is paid to the citizens of this town," Savage said. "We are volunteers, and we come down here time and time and time again, and we are discounted. We are not heard. We are dismissed. We are patted on the head. We're told, 'Thank you so much for coming. We really appreciate your public input.' We're not idiots. We're not nincompoops. ... If you pass this today, you have not heard the voices of the people that you are meant to represent."
Commission member Carla Blanton took issue with that.
"We are all volunteers here, so to insinuate that we do not care about this community or that we are getting paid for this while you are volunteering is grossly in error, and I'm offended by those comments," Blanton said. "We have to take into consideration the law and the rules that we must go by, so that is what we do."
Later, just before the vote, Blanton said: "I understand the concerns, (but) I think this is going to be a great improvement over what's there now. This is exactly the type of infill development that we continue to preach that we want."
One new issue that arose Thursday is that Kroger might not be able to continue using an easement off South Ashland Avenue that runs between Town and Country Apartments and an office building. Kroger has used that easement to gain access to its property for more than 40 years, but the Malloy and Rosenberg families believe the store's expansion and truck traffic will overburden that narrow easement.
That issue might wind up in court; it is not a matter for the planning commission to consider or decide. And, in any case, Casey Kaucher of the city's Division of Traffic Engineering told the commission that Kroger can function and receive deliveries even without the easement.
Another question was whether there will be adequate sewer capacity for the expanded store. Under a 2011 consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency, the city must demonstrate that there is adequate capacity in the sewer system before a new connection can be made.
A letter from an official with the city's Division of Water Quality certified that there is adequate capacity for Kroger in regard to its expanded store.