By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
More studies ordered for Mitchell Ranch and its Wal-Mart Supercenter
Placeholder Image
The Mitchell Ranch shopping center project, which includes the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter as its anchor, is having to endure more governmental red tape.

The city is requiring that the developer, Regency Centers, Inc., of Florida, pay for a separate study to look at how the project would impact sewer capacity.

Additionally, the project's economic impact study will need to be updated to reflect the current economic conditions of Ceres and region.

The new work is adding another $45,100 to the cost of the analysis.

The project is potentially affected by news that the city's sewer disposal system in the Mitchell Road area is limping along and needs repairs.

City Engineer Glenn Gebhardt said a corroding sewer trunk line from Service Road to Don Pedro Road is running full and too corroded for high-pressure cleaning. Gedhardt said that a temporary remedy is connecting up to a dry sewer main in Service Road intended to be used two years in the future. The cost is estimated to cost $50,000.

However the larger problem is a 12-inch sewer main line that runs south from the Barbour's Lift Station buried deep under Mitchell Road. Sewage is filling manholes to less than a foot below the street level because. A model shows that a storm could cause sewage flowing into the street due to the capacity limitations. Installing larger pipes for the two-mile stretch would solve the problem but cost an estimated $4 million.

Building of the Mitchell Ranch commercial project would, of course, add to the sewer discharge in the Mitchell Road area.

Because Wal-Mart is proposing a large big-box retail store, the city must determine what a Wal-Mart Supercenter would do to existing businesses and what might happen when Wal-Mart abandons its existing store location at Mitchell and Hatch roads. Recent court decisions concerning the development of big-box retailers have indicated that a complete Environmental Impact Report (EIR) should include an economics impact analysis to assess potentials of urban decay due to possible closure of competing stores and subsequent vacancies and decline of respective shopping centers.

Senior Planner Tom Westbrook said that the update of the economic impact should be completed by the consulting firm of Bay Area Economics (BAE). Westbrook said the update is needed because the economy has changed vastly since the project was written last year. He expects the economic analysis to be released within a couple of weeks.

Westbrook is unable to predict how long it will take the firm of Pacific Municipal Consultants (PMC) to complete the sewer anaylsis.

"The next big thing will be the release of the release of the draft Environmental Impact Report," said Westbrook. He expects the draft EIR to be released in "the next couple of months."

The draft EIR would be subject to a 45-day review and then be reviewed by the Ceres Planning Commission and the City Council. Those initial hearings will be limited to the thoroughness of the EIR and not the project's merits itself, he said.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter is the anchor of the proposed 26-acre project at the northwest corner of Mitchell and Service roads. The proposed building site is owned by Florida-based Regency Realty Group, the company proposing development. The entire center will consist of 304,000 square feet of retail space but the Supercenter will take up 208,172 square feet. The store would devote 36,167 square feet to grocery sales.

Supercenters differ from regular Wal-Mart stores as they are larger and sell groceries, electronics and many other products. They typically offer better prices than established grocery stores but have proven controversial in many California communities protective of smaller merchants.

The Supercenter will be approximately 208,172 square feet of total floor area selling general merchandise and groceries, including fresh produce, seafood, bakery, meat, and deli. Other service uses may include a bank, vision center, and hair salon.