Developer withdraws 2nd Dollar General
The developer of a discount retail chain in Lindsay has withdrawn its project for the second time this year.
City Planner Bill Zigler said Embree Asset Group withdrew its latest proposal to build a Dollar General store at the corner of Hermosa Street and Elmwood Avenue earlier this month. In a letter dated Oct. 10, Zigler said Embree Asset Group thanked City staff for their hard work throughout the process and that they would not be moving forward with the project to build a 9,100 square-foot store at the site.
Zigler said he did not know if Embree Asset Group would submit an application for a new project but said it was unlikely they would attempt another location in Lindsay due to the looming threat of litigation.
The Lindsay City Council approved the project at its July 9 meeting after a presentation by Embree Asset Groups that the store would have added $1 million in annual sales tax revenue to the local economy.
Embree was proposing to purchase four parcels to make way for the Dollar General store including 120 N. Elmwood Ave. (M&J Auto Repair); 286 N. Elmwood Ave., is the vacant building with rotting facia boards (formerly featuring a mural of the Amgen Tour of California’s pass through in intersection in 2010); and 258 and 286 N. Elmwood Ave., both vacant dirt lots.
Attorney Richard Harriman filed a lawsuit on Aug. 20 on behalf of the Lindsay Advocates For Responsive Government (LARGo) and Lindsay resident Trudy Wischemann claiming the City failed to provide the public with ample time to participate in public comment and by failing to update its General Plan regarding Historic Resources.
The following week, the property owners threatened their own lawsuit if the City did not contest the LARGo lawsuit on the grounds o f protecting their rights as private property owners to sell their property to whomever they see fit during the public comment period of the Aug. 27 City Council meeting. Following closed session of that meeting, Julia Lew reported the City Council voted unanimously to contest the claims in the LARGo lawsuit.
This is the second time this year Embree Asset Group withdrew their proposal to place a Dollar General store near downtown Lindsay. On April 9, Zigler told the City Council that Embree had pulled its original project to demolish the Central California Citrus Exchange (CCCE) building at the corner of Mirage Avenue and Hermosa Street to make way for new store. Zigler said the developer withdrew that project because they were concerned about litigation and that the scope of the project was not large enough to absorb court fees.
The threat of litigation originated from Harriman and LARGo. In a letter dated Mach 11, Harriman requested the City Council deny the Site Plan Review and reject Dollar General’s plan to demolish the building because “Staff has provided erroneous information (which is not substantial evidence) to your Council … regarding a number of issues that are relevant and necessary for your Council to consider during your deliberations and exercise of your discretion …” Harriman wrote that the Council should not make any decision on the project until the issues are resolved under the California Environment Quality Act (CEQA).
Zigler said the scope of the project did not require a CEQA review, meaning that the project did not require an Environmental Impact Report because it was consistent with the “central commercial” zoning of the property, land use elements of the City’s General Plan and that the building does not have any historical significance under the law.
Zigler said the Dollar General’s retail rival may have shelved its plans in Lindsay as well.
Approved with much less controversy at the Feb. 26 City Council meeting, Family Dollar was planning to build a 9,180-square foot store on the southeast corner of Mairposa Street and Highway 65, a property which has been vacant for more than 20 years. The project would divide one 4.74 acre parcel into three smaller parcels. One of the parcels is proposed for a future 6,900-square foot O’Reilly Auto Parts store.
Zigler said Family Dollar was concerned over the loss of direct access to Highway 65. He said the developer, Lars Anderson & Associates, was aware of Caltrans’ plan to realign Highway 65 but had begun the application process anyway. In a letter dated Nov. 5, 2012, Caltrans informed the developer Highway 65 would be realigned west of its current route and that Mariposa would not have direct access to the highway under the new alignment.
As discussions between the City and Caltrans have come closer to an agreement, Zigler said the discount retailer halted its application process and may even be considering withdrawing the project after realizing there was little chance of the property having access to the new highway.
“They may be done but we will know more once the dust settles and realignment gets nailed down in more specifics,”