By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
CVS must address issues with intersection
Placeholder Image
Proponents of a new CVS Pharmacy in Ceres hoped to win approval at Monday's Ceres City Council meeting but were told instead to work out concerns about impacts to traffic gridlock at Hatch Road and Central Avenue.

Members of the Ceres Planning Commission gave a 4-1 approval last month to a new 16,813-square-foot CVS Pharmacy with a drive-thru lane. The council was more constrained.

The panel's consensus is that while CVS is a nice project for the northwest corner of the well-traveled intersection, there are fears that the store will further aggravate an already log-jammed passage way - particularly on Central Avenue north of 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.

A number of Central Avenue residents expressed concerns that another corner drug store will create more traffic woes. They also faulted a traffic study commissioned for the project by Mark Crane of Crane Transportation Group of Elk Grove. Douglas Bilyeu whopointed out was done during summer recess with no school traffic. Crane suggested that including school-related traffic would not have changed the results of the study, which notes that the intersection already performs at a Level of Service (LOS) rated at "D" at peak hours. Peak hours include morning commute time, the hours when school is released and the evening commute drive home.

The store is proposed with access off of both Central Avenue and Hatch Road.

"One of my biggest concerns ... is the turning movements in and out of the site from Hatch Road," said Councilman Chris Vierra. He suggested allowing no left turns in or out of the CVS parking lot onto Hatch Road "just because there's way too much traffic on Hatch Road."

The council also voiced concerns that Central Avenue north of Hatch Road is not proposed to be widened for the CVS. Neighbors suggest that the road be widened to at least accommodate a right turn lane for southbound Central Avenue at the intersection. Currently there is one left turn pocket and one lane that handles through or right turn movements. Traffic often backs up there, especially for southbound Central Avenue traffic.

If the council ultimately approves the project, CVS must win approve from the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for the annexation of seven parcels from the county to the city of Ceres.

The issue of annexation is key in the application. The seven parcels are part of a larger 51-acre county island in the area which (LAFCO) would like annexed to the city. The city was interested in pursuing the 51-acre annexation but put the brakes on with the recession, stating the city cannot financially take servicing 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.

Vierra also voiced concerns about CVS abandoning its current store on Hatch Road and suggested the city look at economic impacts of a vacant building.

"I'm not against the development," said Vierra. "I think this project would improve the area but I think there needs to be more done on this before we can achieve a project that the community can support."

Others, including Tom Brook and David Mendonca, suggested CVS needs to remedy an existing drainage problem at the intersection.

Central Avenue Mary Martinez suggested CVS should install sidewalks on both sides of Central Avenue near its project while attorney-husband Preciliano Martinez suggested "something has to be done with the width of that street."

Bret Durossette said he was "disappointed" with the traffic study and commented that the intersection already sees considerable delays at peak hours. He suggested a desire to see a CVS on another corner in Ceres.

"Right now I'm not for it," said Durrossette. "I think at some point in time if we can come back with a better plan in regards to the flow of traffic, fantastic."

Mayor Anthony Cannella, who lives in north Ceres, said he's irritated by having to sit through a number of cycles of light changes before he can get through the intersection.

"I think it's a nice project," said Cannella, "I just think there needs to be some work done and tonight I don't think it will pass."

Brian Herren of Prudential Realty said his developmental team will take the project back to the Planning Commission. The date for that hearing has not been set.

The project needs approval for a general plan amendment, a prezone from residential to Neighborhood Commercial and an architectural and site plan approval.