"We will decide which grocery stores come to Mosman and the circumstances in which they come." That was the message on Michael Mathieson's sign, neatly summing up community opposition to a proposed Woolworths in the leafy suburb on Sydney's lower north shore.
Mr Mathieson, who politely protested during a community information session at the Mosman Art Gallery last week, is one of many locals fighting tooth and nail to stop the development.
"The people of Mosman can stop Woolies in the same way that they stopped the development of (an aged-care facility at) 10 Terminal at Middle Head," the lawyer told the Mosman Daily. "It just needs people to speak up."
Residents of Mosman, the eighth richest suburb in the country, fear the Woolworths will hurt local retailers, worsen traffic conditions on the already busy main road, and destroy the shopping strip's heritage.
Community backlash to the proposed store at 731-741 Military Road, first announced last year, was so intense that locals even hired a professional public relations firm to lobby Mosman Council.
The council rejected the original development application several months ago, forcing Woolworths back to the drawing board.
Last month it revealed a revised DA for a "substantially smaller" version, which it intends to lodge before Christmas.
"Following research and consultation with community members in Mosman over recent months, Woolworths has revised its plans to a small-format Metro store," the company said.
"The proposed store will retain the high street village atmosphere, and respect and restore local heritage."
Located between the Mosman Club and an old pasta restaurant, the Woolies Metro will cater to "walk-up" shoppers with a focus on small-basket shops that can be carried home – reducing the need for trolleys.
It will have ground-floor space of around 500sq m, compared with a typical 3400-3800sq m supermarket.
The upper floor will be used for "storage and team office space", while the rear of the store will have space for 22 parking spaces.
Mayor Carolyn Corrigan told the Mosman Daily last week that Woolworths appeared to have listened to the community.
"It was a relief they have addressed so many issues the community was concerned about," Cr Corrigan said. "I imagine there is still going to be concern in the community. The big concerns are about parking and traffic."
The new store will receive two delivery trucks per day.
Woolworths says an expert traffic consultant's report found the surrounding road network can "satisfactorily accommodate the proposal, with all intersections operating at their existing level of service".
"In peak times, Military Road and Gouldsbury Street would experience only 10 to 25 extra vehicle movements as a maximum — with no impact on the existing level of service," Woolworths said.
Residents posting on the Mosman Village Community website, formed last year to fight the plans, remain unconvinced, describing the Woolworths as "unnecessary and unwanted".
"I get the feeling that the previous larger proposal was put forward to provoke such outrage that this smaller proposal would seem acceptable," Claire wrote.
"I'm still not happy with the thought of Woolies in Mosman – we don't need it."
Claire said she was particularly concerned about the proposed opening times of 6am to 11pm Monday to Saturday and 6am to 10pm on Sundays.
"If you include say an hour each side for staff setting up and clearing up that's 5am to midnight," she wrote.
"That equates to more people and cars in Mosman for the majority of the day/night. This isn't Newtown and I don't want Mosman to become like that."
Pauline described the information session as "slick with no real answers" and said she was "especially angered" by Woolworths claiming it would add to the heritage feel of the area.
"We don't need nor should we have Woolworths in any form big or small. It is just a foot in the door as far as I can see," she said.
"The cost of restoring a few arches at the front is a drop in the ocean for them and too high a price to pay for us — letting them into our village in return for a restored facade."
Pauline argued Woolies would hurt the community atmosphere. "We have something special here that all humans need," she said.
"You can sit in a cafe and wave at people passing by or chat to someone next to you … people you see all the time. Yes you might pay a little more but with it you get that ongoing conversation and personal attention that is lacking elsewhere."
She added, "To big companies like Woolworths we are objects. Imagine ducking into Woolies Metro Mosman and paying at the automatic machines."