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Council to consider new CVS home on Monday
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The Ceres City Council will host a public hearing on Monday evening to determine if CVS Pharmacy should be allowed to occupy the northwest corner of Hatch Road and Central Avenue.

Members of the Ceres Planning Commission gave thumbs-up last month to a new 16,813-square-foot CVS Pharmacy.

Mary Martinez, whose property is among seven parcels that need to be annexed to the city before the project will be built, is opposed to the project. Martinez said the project will further impact traffic at the busy intersection.

For the seven parcels to be annexed, at least 50 percent of the landowners must approve.

Gayland Wildeman of Wilderman & Simile LLC of Modesto, the applicant of the project, said most of Martinez's points of contention were addressed by the commission. He said the bottlenecking of traffic on Central Avenue north of Hatch Road will be addressed when the road is widened.

He said his project will improve pedestrian circulation, including students who walk to schools south on Central Avenue.

"We're actually trying to make it a safer place. with more lighting and sidewalks," said Wildeman. "There's a lot of people who walk in the the shoulder and this project would build sidewalks there."

He also noted that Martinez's initial fears of losing a bush on her property were taken care of.

Wildeman notes that the project doesn't add a new drug store but replaces the one on Hatch Road.

The new building is proposed immediately west of the Walgreen's drug store. The store, featuring a double pharmacy drive-thru lane, would replace the CVS store (formerly Long's Drugs) now in the 1970s era building at 1640 E. Hatch Road. The site for the new CVS store would have to be cleared of two houses.

"We're not adding one, we're replacing one," said Wildeman. "One that will have a more inviting environment."

On Oct. 18 the commission gave its blessings to a general plan amendment, a prezone to Neighborhood Commercial and an architectural and site plan approval. Commissioners Gary Del Nero, Bob Kachel, Hugo Molina and Laurie Smith voted for the project while Mike Kline voted "no." Kline later said he voted no because he preferred to see more property annexed from the county.

the city of Ceres.

The issue of annexation is one of the central factors in the application. The seven parcels are part of a larger 51-acre county island which the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) would like to see annexed to the city. The city was initially interested in pursuing the 51-acre annexation but put on the brakes with the recession, stating the city cannot financially take on the area. The city is willing, however, to take on the 9.6 acre parcels that will make up the CVS project. LAFCO is willing to approve the smaller annexation in the hopes the city eventually annexes the rest, said Planner James Michael.