Developer Paul Petrovich took an ugly dispute with Sacramento city officials to a higher authority Tuesday. He asked the Sacramento Superior Court to overturn the City Council’s decision to deny him a permit for a Safeway gas station at his planned Curtis Park Village shopping center.
The legal complaint calls the council’s 7-2 decision in mid-November “a blatant abuse of discretion” and asks a judge to set it aside. It argues the city had no legal basis for denying Petrovich Development a conditional use permit in an area already zoned and planned for commercial development.
City spokeswoman Linda Tucker forwarded a statement to The Sacramento Bee from the Sacramento City Attorney’s Office:
“We have not yet seen the writ but we are satisfied that the Curtis Park Village consideration involved a lengthy council meeting with a clear basis for council action to deny the conditional use permit,” it said.
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Petrovich introduced the proposal for a gas station in Curtis Park Village last year, after more than a decade of planning. His methods of advocating for it, including enlisting the aid of several local pastors whose congregants wanted the unionized jobs Safeway would offer, struck some as heavy-handed.
Tuesday’s legal complaint was the latest bout in a years-long struggle between Petrovich, city officials and neighbors in the older Curtis Park Neighborhood next door to Curtis Park Village. The city’s second-largest infill development, where homes are under construction, occupies the 72-acre site of a former toxic railyard.
Petrovich declined to comment on the legal action. His attorneys, with the Palo Alto office of law firm Rutan & Tucker, did not respond to interview requests.
In voting against the gas station, council members rejected a June vote by the city’s planning commissioners and a recommendation by city staff members to grant it.
The city’s Planning and Design Commission approved the gas station in June by a vote of 8-3 after hours of debate. The Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association, which represents many residents of the Curtis Park neighborhood, appealed the decision to the City Council.
Safeway insisted it wouldn’t put a new store in Curtis Park Village if it couldn’t have a gas station, and Petrovich began threatening to bring in discount stores in place of Safeway and other higher-paying tenants.
The council members who voted against the eight-pump, 16-nozzle Safeway fuel center said they didn’t think it belonged in a new infill neighborhood geared toward public transit, cycling and walking.
Councilman Larry Carr said at the meeting that he didn’t see how a gas station tucked away in a corner of a much larger development could be so controversial, especially since the neighborhood’s design included a 700-space parking lot for Petrovich’s shopping center.
After the council vote in November, Petrovich posted signs that advertised a Grocery Outlet store “Coming Soon!” to Curtis Park Village. The signs were recently taken down and replaced with typical commercial real estate signs advertising space that would be available at the shopping plaza.