Target dropped plans to expand its Turlock store’s grocery business on Thursday, just hours before the Planning Commission was set to consider the issue.
The move would have seen Target expand the grocery section within its existing store from 4.9 percent of its floor space to 8.4 percent. The change would have added a fresh produce section, but unlike a Super Target would not have featured a deli or bakery.
According to Turlock Deputy Development Services Director Debbie Whitmore, Target opted to drop the proposal after reading a staff report suggesting Planning Commissioners deny the request over legal concerns. Whitmore said that Target has been good partners with the city throughout the process.
Target required Planning Commission approval for the change because of a 2003 City of Turlock ordinance which bans “discount superstores” of greater than 100,000 square feet, with more than 5 percent of the floor space devoted to non-taxable items like groceries; the expansion would have taken the Turlock Target to over 5 percent groceries.
That ordinance was drafted specifically to prevent a Walmart Supercenter from coming to town, then proposed for the now-vacant plot of land south of Kohl’s in Monte Vista Crossings. Walmart launched a legal challenge of the ordinance which took two years and cost Turlock nearly $400,000 to defend, but the legality of the ban was upheld.
Had the Planning Commission recommended approving the Target grocery expansion, and the City Council agreed with that recommendation, the move could have opened Turlock up to lawsuits.
The City Council asked the Planning Commission last year to examine overturning the big box ban, but in November the commission – with an outpouring of public comment backing their decision – recommended the City of Turlock uphold the ban. On Tuesday, at their regular 7 p.m. meeting, the City Council will consider the Planning Commission’s recommendation and provide direction to staff whether or not to pursue allowing big box stores in Turlock.
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