A new 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store was approved on Monday evening by the Ceres Planning Commission.
The store, pegged for development at the southeast corner of Whitmore Avenue and Malik Drive, will be the second being opened by the Dollar General chain in Ceres. The former Richland Market in the Richland Shopping Center is being remodeled for the first to open.
Approximately 20 residents signed a petition protesting the project when it was first discussed at the March 18 Planning Commission meeting. Residents of a nearby Westpointe residential housing tract fear that the project will bring in more traffic and noise and attract traffic by undesirable strangers. The petition was circulated by Eric Curiale and read: "In response to the Dollar Store (sic) coming to our neighborhood, we feel it is not the right thing for such a large store to come so close to our homes. We feel it will bring too many problems such as traffic and traffic accidents, will make it even noisier and will bring strangers in to our neighborhood." Discussion of the project was continued to Monday's meeting where none of the petition signers showed. Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the Planned Community Development Plan (PCDC). Commissioner Hugo Molina was absent.
Back in 2006 a 32,500-square-foot retail commercial shopping center was approved for the site, which is opposite the closing Post plant, but that project fell through.
The Dollar General project will occupy 1.15 acres of a 2.93-acre commercial site. It will be accessed from Whitmore Avenue and Malik Drive on the side.
The applicant was Bryan Embree of Embree Asset Group of Georgetown, Texas.
Senior Planner Tom Westbrook said the store will not be allowed to look as lackluster as the metal warehouse looking structure which Dollar General erected on Yosemite Boulevard in Waterford last year.
"It will be far superior aesthetically," said Westbrook. "It (the proposed building) doesn't look anything like that building. It has stucco and columns and stone veneer. The building size is about the same (as Waterford) but that's about it for comparisons.
Westbrook was curious about why Dollar General was placing two stores in Ceres, about a mile and a half from each other on Whitmore Avenue. The chain's marketing director told him that Dollar General is looking to place 1,000 stores in California and some areas like Ceres will see an overlap.
In other action, the commission approved a three-year extension for Dirk Wyatt's plan to convert a single-family residence at the northeast corner of Whitmore Avenue and Sixth Street into an office use. Wyatt had been approved in 2009 for an Architectural and Site Plan but has not yet made the improvement and wanted to keep it current. Wyatt now has three years to make improvements on the property, which is zoned Administrative Professional (A-P).