By Phillip Pesola–
Following an uneventful public hearing on Wednesday, the Citrus Heights Planning Commission approved plans for the construction of a new Starbucks on Auburn Boulevard, just inside the city’s northern boundary.
Kevin Payne, a planning consultant who has been working with city staff and the project’s applicant, led the presentation and provided key details about the project. The project site, located south of the Auburn Boulevard and Whyte Avenue intersection, comprises three parcels totaling around 2.2 acres.
The project involves constructing a 2,241-square-foot building at 8540 Auburn Blvd. that will house a Starbucks with a drive-thru and indoor and outdoor seating options, including a 400 square foot plaza. While the existing retail space occupied by Tea It and Waggin’ Tails will remain, the plan includes removing the section currently occupied by a liquor store.
The site plan features a drive-thru that wraps around the building, with primary access from Auburn Boulevard and additional access points for traffic circulation. The presentation also addressed parking considerations, including the removal of parking spaces to accommodate vehicle stacking in the drive-thru.
The architect made revisions to enhance the building’s appearance, including faux windows to create a more attractive retail frontage, as well as various textures and architectural elements such as brick, stucco, metal veneer, and teak wood siding.
The project also necessitates a tree permit, as there are 51 trees on-site and in adjacent areas. Of these, nine protected trees are set to be removed, with seven eligible for mitigation. The project’s current mitigation plan involves compensating for the loss of 93 inches of oak tree foliage. However, an update will be required prior to the issuance of a building permit to account for any changes regarding tree preservation.
The project was found to align with the city’s general plan and zoning regulations. The environmental analysis concluded that the project qualifies for an infill exemption due to its small size (under five acres), being surrounded by urban uses, and adherence to the general plan and zoning regulations.
Following the presentation and a brief discussion to clarify minor project details, the Commission unanimously approved the required use, design review, and tree permits.
Some discussion was made regarding the number of Starbucks locations within a close proximity, with Citrus Heights already home to five locations. Commissioner Marcelle Flowers said she liked seeing development in an area she described as “an eyesore,” but said she was torn that nearby small businesses “might be impacted by this to some degree.”
A city planner said work on the project will not take place until the city begins work on street improvements for Auburn Boulevard, putting the timeline likely into 2024 to 2025.
On the other side of the county line in Roseville, the same applicant has also proposed a second 2,600-square-foot “quick serve restaurant” with a two-lane drive thru on an adjacent parcel the applicant also owns. That proposal will be separately reviewed by the City of Roseville.