Two separate driving forces have now made the City of Turlock Planning Staff research and review the Big Box Ordinance; the Development Collaborative Advisory Committee (DCAC) and Councilman Ted Howze.
City of Turlock Planner Debbie Whitmore said that the DCAC felt strongly that the City Council should consider designating regional commercial areas within the City of Turlock and/or look at initiating an amendment to the City’s current ordinance to redefine discount superstores to allow more square footage within the buildings to be used for non-taxable floor area.
Whitmore said that Councilman Howze wanted the City took at an overlay zoning district that would encompass some portions of the Northwest Triangle Specific Plan area that may allow discount superstore types of businesses as an exception to the Citywide ordinance.
Councilman Ted Howze had reasons for such an ordinance revision in an effort to create more entry-level jobs, retaining local sales tax dollars while also potentially increasing city revenue.
The Turlock Planning Commission held a special public meeting on Thursday, October 21, 2010 to review options for regulating Discount Superstores in the City of Turlock and to listen to the community about what they think the City should do.
This was a Special Meeting of the Planning Commission and no action could be taken by the Planning Commission at Thursday’s meeting.
The Planning Commission will consider direction to staff at their November 4, 2010 meeting and then Council will ultimately have the final say.
Turlock’s Big Box ordinance amendment was initiated in October 2003 and adopted in January 2004 with the objectives to define and classify large-scale (“big box”) retail stores, require a Conditional Use Permit for certain large-scale retail stores (“discount stores” and “discount clubs”), and prohibit “discount superstores.”
The reason for prohibiting discount superstores was to avoid negative impacts and conflicts with the current General Plan policies including:
Long-term economic viability of neighborhood commercial centers
Traffic congestion and associated air pollution
Transportation patterns and increase vehicle trips
Undermine neighborhood shopping centers focus of current General Plan
Current general plan establishes a separate designation for “Regional Commercial” centers for region-serving retail, like “big box” stores.
1 – General Plan Approach
2 – Zoning Overlay District
3 – Change in Zoning Definition
4 – Individual Site Rezone
There were about 10 speakers at the Planning Commission’s public meeting including a CSUS accounting professor, former Turlock City Planner, a lifelong Turlock resident and grocery store owner, a resident with grandparents who lived in Turlock back in 1913, a newer Turlock resident coming from a smaller town, and a Turlock City Council candidate.
All except Turlock City Council candidate David Fransen spoke to why discount superstores should not be allowed in Turlock for one reason or another and all speakers expressed that the City Council should not repeal or revise the current discount superstore ordinance banning such stores.
David Fransen believed the ban should have never been adopted on the principle that he believed it was out of the scope of fair policy setting and the government’s role. However, after all the City’s money and hard work that the courts backed, going back over the ban would not seem prudent.
Turlock Planning Commission Chair Mike Brem, who was on the planning back when the commission and City Council first made the decision to ban discount superstores, agreed and that in his mind this has already been decided when first enacted and for all the right reasons as provided in the presentation.
No action was to be taken but rather to solicit the public information the City Council wanted the Planning Commission to gather. The Planning Commission will discuss and address the discount superstore ban at the regularly scheduled Planning Commission Meeting on November 4, 2010 at 7pm at City Hall. City Council will ultimately have the final say either way after then.
*Also planned for the November 4th Planning Commission Meeting will be agenda items regarding the Ten Pin Family Entertainment Center planned to open next to Rite Aide across from CSUS on Monte Vista Avenue and the Dust Bowl Brewing’s bar to be located on Main Street in Downtown Turlock. Details to the agenda will be posted by the City soon.