Cranberry Square Shopping Center in Westminster may get increased traffic access through a left turn off Cranberry Road rather than the direct entrance off westbound Route 140 that the center's owners have been seeking.
At a session last night, the Westminster City Planning Commission deferred a decision until its Dec. 12 meeting, but the Cranberry Road left turn proposed by commission member Jerry L. Toadvine got a generally favorable reception.
Attorney Donald J. Gilmore said opening the first entrance at the rear of the shopping center to left turns off Cranberry Road would be acceptable. However, Mr. Gilmore, who represented Cranberry Square owners Constellation Real Estate Corp., said he might resubmit the request for an entrance off Route 140 if the Cranberry Road turn didn't generate additional traffic.
At present, the main entrance to the shopping center is from Center Street just north of Route 140.
Shopping center representatives said customers, particularly senior citizens, are reluctant to come to Cranberry Square because of confusion generated by lanes of traffic coming in from both eastbound and westbound Route 140 and straight across from northbound Center Street.
"We have had numerous complaints from customers," said Tom Barron, Giant supermarket manager. However, Mr. Barron said his store's business is currently "above the company's expectations."
Planning Commission Chairman Robert Myers said the Giant manager's report indicated to him that customers are willing to use the intersection to get to the shopping center.
But Cathy Ward, assistant vice president for real estate leasing with Constellation, painted a grimmer picture for other tenants. She said that although she is close to signing a lease that will bring the shopping center to 100 percent capacity, several tenants are "really struggling" and may have to leave.
The commission had denied the center a direct entrance from Route 140 in 1989. County government agencies and the State Highway Administration opposed the turn three years ago and did not change their positions in reviewing the most recent request, Planning Director Thomas B. Beyard reported.
Mr. Gilmore had suggested allowing the shopping center to put in a Route 140 entrance, "and if it proves to be a traffic hazard, we'll take it out."