On December 2, 2010, the Turlock Planning Commission denied suggesting to the Turlock City Council to revisit the 2004 Big Box ordinance, banning Discount Superstores that exceed 100,000 square feet of floor area and devote at least 5 percent of the sales floor area to nontaxable merchandise, commonly referred to groceries.
Furthermore, the Turlock Planning Commission denied supporting Commissioner Jeff Hillberg and Chair Mike Brem’s motion to at least study the impacts of a discount superstore at no extra cost while going through the General Plan Update with a 5-2 vote.
The rest of the Planning Commission felt that it would open the door for future discount superstore appeals to the Big Box ordinance.
There was mention of an upcoming application request by the Target Corporation to expand its grocery sales area beyond the 5% of floor space allowed by Turlock’s Big Box Ordinance.
The Turlock Planning Commission may consider the application as a Planned Development Rezone, a process that may allow exemption to the Big Box Ordinance as a case by case discretionary permitting process.
Previous to the decision, the Turlock Planning Commission was directed by the Turlock City Council to seek community input on the matter. The 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.
Community input was overwhelmingly against discount superstores in Turlock as all 10 public speakers, with the exception of David Fransen, disapproved.
Two separate driving forces are responsible for making 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 City Council will now consider upholding the Turlock Planning Commission’s decision to not change or revisit the Big Box Ordinance at the Turlock City Council Meeting on January 11, 2011.