King Equipment LLC would like to move three different smaller sites, including locations in Ontario and San Pedro, and consolidate them at a 6.03-acre site on the northwest corner of Rio Rancho Road and Auto Center Drive that was once home to an automobile dealership.
However, some City Council members wonder if a business that sells and leases new and used lifts and forklifts is compatible with a future retail center anchored by a Target store.
"I don't see a shopping center and cranes," said Councilwoman Cristina Carrizosa during the meeting.
Kevin Knox, who represents King Equipment, said his client has a successful business that is ready to move into the site and begin generating tax revenue.
"King Equipment is a 30-year-old business," Knox said. "It can occupy the (building) today and open tomorrow - literally that fast."
Last month, a proposal for a conditional use permit for the business went to the city's Planning Commission, which approved it pending the City Council's approval of a zone change.
The zone change is necessary because under current city regulations a business such as King Equipment is not a permitted use in the highway commercial and light industrial zones.
The proposed zone change went before the City Council this week, where Knox learned the Planning Commission's decision has been appealed.
Mayor Elliott Rothman said he requested the appeal because the project is a large one.
"For a project like that, it should be looked at by the City Council," he said.
At one point during the meeting, Councilman Freddie Rodriguez proposed postponing the zone change until the two recently elected members of the council have been seated.
But three of the six council members present - Councilwomen Danielle Soto, Paula Lantz and Ginna Escobar - were in favor of addressing the matter.
Lantz said the council should address the matter and reminded colleagues that in the recent election just about all candidates spoke about the need to be business-friendly.
She pointed out the business's representatives had attended the meeting under the impression they were approaching the end of having their project approved but instead learned an appeal had been filled.
Council members discussed the matter and ended up voting 3-3 with Rodriguez, Carrizosa and Rothman voting against approving the zone change.
Council members agreed to postpone addressing the matter until Dec. 3.
At that time the council will once again hold a public hearing in relation to the zoning change proposal, said City Clerk Marie Macias.
Council members will also determine at that time if they wish to schedule a hearing for the appeal, she said.
Rodriguez said Tuesday he has concerns about the zone change, which would affect all areas zoned highway commercial and light industrial in the city, as well as having a business selling industrial equipment near a retail center.
"Is this going to be a good fit?" Rodriguez asked. "This is going to be a huge project with Target."
"I look at other cities and they don't have anything like that" nearby, Rodriguez said, referring the proposed business near retail centers.
In October, the Planning Commission unanimously approved a proposal for Rio Rancho Towne Center, which will be built on more than 36 acres east of the 71 Freeway. A large part of the land was occupied by auto dealerships making up the Pomona Auto Center.
The Towne Center project, will be built in two phases, will straddle White Avenue. First to be built will be the eastern portion, which will be constructed on the northeast corner of White Avenue and Auto Center Drive.
The Target store is expected to be open by October 2013.
The western portion of the development will be bound by the 71 Freeway, Lexington Avenue and White.
No date has been set as to when the western portion of the development will be completed since the city and the project's development firm are waiting to see if the state Department of Finance accepts a development agreement between the city and the developers.
The agreement between the now-defunct Pomona redevelopment agency and the developers involves $1.4 million in agency assistance that would be used to relocate a storm drain that crosses the western side of the property.
Rodriguez said the equipment dealership may be better suited for a different part of the city, perhaps somewhere along Mission Boulevard near the 71 Freeway.
Councilwoman Cristina Carrizosa said she was surprised to hear the Planning Commission's decision was appealed since it had been approved without facing opposition.
She was also surprised the business would be interested in the site since it's in a location that is already the subject of development.
Carrizosa has questions about having retail shops and a business with very large pieces of equipment so close to each other, she said.
"I can't visualize a natural flow," Carrizosa said.
On the other hand, the equipment dealership could generate significant tax revenue for the city.
"It's a contradictory situation," she said.
Knox said his client does between $18 million and $21 million worth of business annually and that figure is expected to grow.
About 60 percent of the company's earnings come from sales.
The city would receive about 1 percent of the 8.25 percent sales tax, City Manager Linda Lowry said.
Knox said in Pomona, King Equipment would sell and lease new and used equipment in addition to selling parts and servicing equipment.
The Pomona site is large enough to accommodate the growing business which serves the Southern California region, he said.
The site is appealing "not necessarily for the visibility," Knox said. "It's the size and location."
Reach Monica via email or call her at 909-483-9336.