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Power outage pre-empts planners’ meeting
Family Pizza
These architectural renderings show what the new Family Pizza proposed for Whitmore Avenue will look like. The project, pegged for the vacant parcel east of Health Services Agency, will be considered on Oct. 3 by the Ceres Planning Commission. - photo by Courtesty of the city of Ceres

A power outage just hours before the scheduled Tuesday, Sept. 6 Ceres Planning Commission meeting resulted in a cancellation and delay of the consideration of a proposal to construct a 11,900 square foot pizza restaurant and bar at 3113 E. Whitmore Avenue.

The city didn’t know how long the electricity would be out and called off the meeting in anticipation that it would remain for an extended time, said Christopher Hoem, the city of Ceres’ Director of Community Development. The power was restored prior to the 6 p.m. starting time but it was too late to notify all parties and the meeting remained cancelled.

The cancellation meant that two important projects won’t be heard until the Monday, Oct. 3 meeting.

Applicant Sukhi Mann, owner of the existing Family Pizza at 2921 Whitmore Avenue, had first approached the city in early 2020 to build on a vacant 1.16-acre site east of the Del Taco and medical office properties. The application was put on hold when the COVID pandemic struck that March. 

Hoem said the project meets all development standards outlined in the Mitchell Road Corridor Specific Plan and noted that city staff supports the commercial project “as it will provide the local area residents with an improved restaurant option and the design of the project provides attractive building frontages that are readily visible from Whitmore Avenue.”

Approximately 6,465 square feet will be set aside for family dining, kids’ video games, arcade machines and play areas. The remaining 5,435 square feet will consist of a cocktail lounge (bar) with dining area and pool tables.

The proposed business hours for the family pizza portion will be from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, while the bar will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays through Wednesdays. Mann anticipates 10 full-time employees operating seven days a week. The family pizza space is designed for up to 140 occupants and the bar is designed for up to 63 occupants. A movable partition wall between the spaces will be installed to allow for a flexible space. A small outdoor smoke area will be accessible from the bar at a fenced patio.

Family Pizza was started in 1969 by Doug Lane in the Richland Shopping Center. Mann, 74, quit his job at Procter & Gamble 33 years ago to take over the business. In November 2013 Mann moved the business to 2921 Whitmore Avenue. He grew the business and improved its reputation.

Flea market extension

On Oct. 3, the Planning Commission will consider approval of the extension of the Conditional Use Permit for the 29-acre El Rematito Flea Market at 3025 and 3113 Crows Landing Road. 

In August the applicant requested approval of a 12-month extension for the existing CUP entitlement to allow El Rematito Flea Market to continue to operate. The city wants a six-month extension while issues are worked out.

The Planning Commission approved an amendment to the CUP in September 2020 to allow El Rematito Flea Market to operate for two years at which time the city would review the project. 

City staff members said owners Candida and Pedro Marquez have acted on complaints regarding dust generated by vehicles parking on a dirt lot west of the flea market parking lot. While the dirt lot is owned by the same owner, it isn’t part of the CUP, and therefore, market attendees and vendors are not allowed to park at the dirt lot. El Rematito blocked off the dirt lot to take care of the dust problem.

“It is staff’s opinion that the owner is working with the city in good faith to resolve all matters related to code enforcement and any nuisances that have been reported,” a city staff report to the commission noted. “There are also engineering- and infrastructure-related issues that the city needs time to review and resolve with the owner.”

Because more time is needed, it was recommended that the commission approve a six-month extension of the CUP.

“This is shorter than the owner’s original request for a 12-month extension, but given the anticipated busy season beginning again in March 2023, it is the owner and city staff’s mutual goal to resolve long-term parking and traffic issues during the 6-month extension.”