A coalition of community groups that sought to block development of a Dick's Sporting Goods near Coddingtown mall over fears it might interfere with a future bicycle and pedestrian bridge have dropped their appeal after getting the developer to acknowledge plans for the span.
The Community Connector Bridge Advocacy Group was set to ask the City Council Tuesday to overturn the approval of the Cleveland Avenue project being proposed by Codding Enterprises on the site of the former Los Robles Lodge.
The group, which included Sonoma County Conservation Action and Friends of SMART, felt the project was approved by the city's Design Review Board without regard for how it might affect a future bridge over Highway 101, which long-range plans show landing in the general area of the project.
But the group withdrew its opposition Monday after Codding officials agreed to include in its development application a formal acknowledgment of plans for the bridge.
"Although we felt strongly that our appeal had merit, we are much happier to reach agreement with Codding and Dick's Sporting Goods to establish a collaborative relationship going forward," said Dennis Rosatti, executive director of Sonoma County Conservation Action. "This agreement satisfies our desire for the developer to acknowledge the bridge's existence."
Codding agreed to add language its application acknowledging that the project is located in the boundaries of the North Station Area Plan, a plan meant to guide more intensive growth in the area around the future rail station at Guerneville Road.
It also acknowledges that the plan "identifies an area near the project site where a Community Connector Bridge may be developed" along Cleveland Avenue somewhere between Edwards and Jennings avenues.
The community groups were concerned that if the 50,000-square-foot store and smaller retail space on the corner of Edwards and Cleveland avenue were developed as planned, officials from Dick's or Codding might oppose the bridge in the future.
Kirstie Moore, development and property manager for Codding Enterprises, which co-owns the nearby Coddingtown mall, has said it could be a problem if a future bridge blocked views of the new store from Highway 101.
The latest iteration of the project envisions a curvaceous, 15-foot-wide span from Elliott Avenue on the east side of Highway 101 to Edwards Avenue on the west. Supporters say it will make it easier for bicyclists and pedestrians to get across a city bifurcated by Highway 101. Critics have questioned the cost and need, noting that Guerneville Road is just a few hundreds yards to the north.
The city has spent about $800,000 to date studying the project, which has been estimated to cost between $14 million and $20 million.
Jenny Bard, chairwoman of the Neighborhood Alliance, said she hoped Dick's officials would embrace the bridge as good for the community and for their business.
"The bridge will increase foot traffic from neighborhood pedestrians and cyclists who will be funneled past their store, a natural marketing opportunity," Bard said.
You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. OnTwitter@citybeater