Plans to build a drive-through Panda Express store on Highway 99W and Elliott Road are back on hold after a resident has appealed the city's decision to approve an early design application.
Paying nearly $500 to make the appeal, Elliott Road resident Dan D'Hondt – who rallied some neighbors to write letters against the project on account of the increased traffic that the Old Mill Marketplace has already created – explained that his and neighbor's comments were largely not considered because they did not pertain to specific city development rules.
"All those comments, all those letters, every single word of it fell onto deaf ears – legally deaf ears – because the city is only looking at a few certain points …," he said in an interview last week.
In an email to city planning staff expressing his intention to appeal, D'Hondt also noted his intent to hire an attorney or seek legal counsel concerning the $491 in appeal fees being "extorted" from him.
While construction had been slated to start this summer, the city cannot give any improvement or building permits until the current issue around land use is resolved, according to Newberg Community Development Director Doug Rux.
The roughly 2,200-square-foot fast-food restaurant with a drive-through lane is about a third of the size of the original building planned for the Old Mill Marketplace, according to owner and developer Stuart Brown, who previously noted that the property has been sold to a different developer.
That developer, CFT NV Development LLC, according to the city's website, could not be reached for comment.
D'Hondt said he is not opposed to the idea of having a Panda Express on the property, but rather he takes issue with the city relying on the developer to report traffic data and the city doing nothing to mitigate traffic turning northward out of the development.
"My suggestion, if you're in that complex and you would like to turn left to go north onto Elliott, I suggest a 'no left turn' sign," he said, noting that he is aware that some drivers would disregard the sign and turn left anyway.
The planning commission will hold a public hearing on the appeal Sept. 14 and make a decision after that, Rux said. The decision could be further appealed to the council and the state Land Use Board of Appeals.