Although national retailer Dollar General is preparing to make the town of Denair home to a new 9,100-square foot store, they might not be welcomed with open arms.
During Tuesday evening’s Denair Municipal Advisory Council meeting, which serves as the bridge between the unincorporated community and the county, over 20 Denair residents showed up to raise their concerns regarding the new Dollar General looking to come to town.
Although the council did not make any official decision during the meeting – which served as an informational session to solicit community input – the community members in attendance took a vote by raise of hand to quickly assess public approval. The verdict? Only one or two people in the full room were in favor of the retailer coming to Denair.
Senior Planner Miguel Galvez of the Stanislaus County Planning and Community Development Department provided the council and community members a brief rundown of the proposed project, which would include the construction of a 9,100-square foot Dollar General at Main and Fresno streets directly adjacent to the existing Quick Stop. Additionally, the project would see improvements made to Fresno Street, while constructing a driveway to serve as an access point.
Galvez shared that the County will request Dollar General to consider a combined driveway that would serve as an access point to the adjacent Quick Stop, as to allow customers to easily cross over between both businesses.
To allow a Dollar General, however, the County is rezoning the empty 1.75-acre parcel that had been previously rezoned to permit a lumber yard that was never developed.
County Supervisor Vito Chiesa, who represents the unincorporated community of Denair on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, shared to the unhappy residents that if they could bring real concerns regarding traffic or environmental reasons to the attention of the County, then the project could perhaps be halted. With county staff conducting the appropriate traffic and environmental studies, however, it seems unlikely that the project will come to a stop.
“If there’s a real concern that can’t be mitigated – not ‘build it somewhere else’ or ‘not in my backyard’ – then I’ve seen projects not go through,” said Chiesa.
Concerns from the public included increased traffic in the area that would create a danger for young children headed to the nearby elementary school, and how the national retailer may have a negative effect on local businesses.
Both Chiesa and Galvez explained to the residents that the economic factors were not under the jurisdiction of the county planning department, but rather a function of the free market. As for traffic concerns, Galvez shared that he would be bringing a traffic expert from the planning department to the next MAC meeting in February to help address their worries.
Dorinda Soiseth, an outgoing member of the Denair MAC, said that the project could be an avenue for the town of Denair to set forth design guidelines for future developments.
“I would like to look into whether we could see if it could be constructed by something other than metal,” said Soiseth. “Perhaps this could be a starting place to set the standard for future development. I would like to see them take it up a step from the standard metal building.”
One Denair resident, who owns a business in the Denair Food Market shopping center across the street of the proposed Dollar General, shared her belief that the community of Denair should keep the focus on what the town already has that needs improvements instead of constructing a new store that could potentially put the Denair Food Market out of business. Backed by many other residents in the audience, she brought forth concerns regarding the existing shopping center that had become a “dump” while presenting “real safety concerns in the parking lot.”
“[Dollar General] wouldn’t be looking to come here if there wasn’t a need,” said Jerry Powell, who represents several landowners in the area. “Many of you drive to Turlock every day and this would allow you to cut back on some of those trips. Also, instead of your tax dollars going to Turlock, it would stay in the County which serves the unincorporated areas.”
Discussions surrounding the proposed Dollar General will continue at the Feb. 4 meeting. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Leadership Center of the Denair School District, located at 3460 Lester Road. Concerns regarding the project can also be emailed to Rachel Wyse of the Stanislaus County Planning Department at email@example.com.