Shortly after newly elected Council Members Bill DeHart, Forrest White, and reelected Mayor John Lazar took the oath of office, the Turlock City Council approved a property rezone that will allow the construction of a family fun center which includes 34 bowling lanes.
Turlock has had multiple bowling alleys in the past but not since the late 1990’s.
"We’re going to eliminate the comment that there’s nothing to do in Turlock, which comes up in almost every quality of life survey," said project partner Jim Theis.
The Council approved the request for a Planned Development zoning that will authorize the construction of an approximately 52,000 square foot Family Entertainment Center to include 34 bowling lanes, a 4,000 square foot laser tag area, a game room with approximately 75 games and a prize redemption center, a sports bar with seating for approximately 200 guests including billiards, shuffle board, two outdoor bocce ball courts and outdoor dining. The facility will also have six banquet/party rooms that can host small birthday parties or larger events.
The subject property is located at 980 W. Monte Vista Avenue, across from CSU Stanislaus by Rite Aide.
While Council approved the project’s zoning and plans, it was only after the Turlock Planning Commission and developer made some compromises addressing concerns of the neighborhood residents and City Planning Staff.
Previous to the Turlock City Council hearing, the Turlock Planning Commission discussed the project for nearly four hours on November 4, 2010 and debated whether or not the rezoning of the property from residential to commercial was appropriate and consistent with the General Plan.
Turlock Planning Commission voted 5-2 (Soraya Fregosi and Jeanine Bean opposing) to recommend to the City Council a General Plan Amendment and Rezone for the Planned Development, Family Entertainment Center, with the operating conditions noted.
Some of the same discussion that took place at the Planning Commission Meeting also took place at the Turlock City Council Meeting in regards to if the site is suitable for the intensity of the proposed use and whether or not the proposed rezoning will cause substantial environmental damage.
The family fun center is estimated to create 990 more trips per day than previous planned projects although City Engineer Mike Pitcock previously reported that traffic studies did not show major impacts to traffic flow ratings.
Noise was brought up and ended up focusing not on the noise that customers would bring as they’ll be inside the building but on the construction noise some neighborhood residents complained about as a previous nearby project had Sunday noise complaints.
Nearby resident Ken DeMartini scheduled a live City Council Meeting phone call-in to express his concern with the proposed project’s potential noise disturbance. He and his wife have called-in before saying that during the construction of the Rite Aide they suffered major health issues due to the noise and even totaled $10,000 in structural and other damage while construction took place.
"If the City Council turns a deaf ear to me, you will literally destroy my life, my health and my home," said DeMartini.
A few others spoke against the project, not in general, but only because of the proposed residential location near their homes and property.
Turlock Police Chief Gary Hampton addressed the concerns of potential higher traffic, crimes, and noise by stating that crime in that area has decreased by 40 percent, that there were construction issues his department dealt with in regards to the DeMartini’s concerns, and that his department would be ready for more calls in the area due to increased awareness.
At the previous Turlock Planning Meeting, Commissioner Jeff Hillberg also brought up concerns with the outside bocce ball courts and the potential for noise disturbances as the business was proposed to stay open until 4am. The closing time was also a concern of the Planning Commission.
City Planning Staff and the Planning Commission had concerns over the proposed building’s aesthetic design and colors and that the building was not consistent with the Turlock General Plan and other applicable plans and policies adopted by the Turlock City Council.
One of the project’s partners, local realtor Jim Theis, offered up mitigation for conditional issues as he said the project would work with whatever the City needed in regards to colors and aesthetics, the business’ hours of operation would be scaled back from 2am to 1am Sunday through Thursday and 2:30am from the proposed 4am on Friday and Saturday with a 6 month provisional trial period. To address some concern over proposed 24 hour special event hours, Theis willingly offered a proposal of 7 days notice to the police department for any day with a special event and that would also be on a 6 month provisional trial period. To address the concerns with noise, Theis proposed that there would be no outside bocce ball after 10pm on Sunday through Thursday and midnight on Friday and Saturday. There was a guarantee of no Sunday construction for noise provision.
“We live here, so we have a vested interest to make things right,” said Theis at the Planning Commission Meeting.
After the 6 month provision period, operating conditions will be reviewed by staff at no cost to the applicant and be brought before the Planning Commission for reconsideration.
While most of the potential negative impacts had been worked through before the Council heard the project request, not much needed to be addressed by Council.
Along with the few opposed to the project, about 8 people from ages 12 and up spoke in favor of the project including nearby residents.
“I am so excited about this idea,” said Turlock High School sophomore Cole Larson. “Movies just aren’t enough here.”
“I see this as a spark for the flame for Turlock.”
Councilwoman Mary Jackson had called upon Police Chief Hampton to clarify the residential area concerns earlier and had asked the project partner Jim Theis to clarify why the project chose the location versus already zoned commercial lots or current vacant buildings.
Thies stated that they were looking for something that children would not have to cross the railroad tracks to get to, that they had an accessible location, and that buildings such as the old Mervyn’s building were not feasible to renovate. Theis wanted to note that the old Mervyn’s building was the first place they looked at but that the structural pillars stopped it from being feasible.
Councilwoman Amy Bublak referenced a study done by CSU Stanislaus showing that youth are in the top five priorities of the community.
“I think this just goes along with what we’re trying to do,” said Bublak. “I’m supporting this (project).”
Councilman Bill DeHart reiterated what Planning Chair Mike Brem had said at a previous meeting and that there have been about 40 years and several medium/high density residential projects proposed for the location and none of them have came to fruition.
Councilman DeHart stated “Nothing residential has worked on this spot.”
“I have concerns as a couple of the speakers have stated,” said DeHart. “Presence will make a big difference.”
“The reality is that activity brings down crime,” said Councilman Forrest White.
“I think it’s a dream come true for Turlock,” said Mayor Lazar. “I think nothing but positive things can come from this.”
Council approved the rezoning and project’s plans unanimously after about an hour of discussion and was followed by an applauding crowd.
Ten Pin Family Fun Center is expected to be open in the winter of 2011.