Size limit will hit Home Depot

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By ERIN MAYES

An ordinance to limit the size of big-box stores in Tuolumne County will, if approved, affect plans Home Depot has had in the works for almost three years.

The hardware store chain wants to build a 90,000-square-foot store on Mono Way next to Hammond Ford exceeding the 60,000-square-foot limit in the draft ordinance. The store's plans also include a 25,000-square-foot garden center and 7,000 square feet of space for outdoor sales.

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors Planning Committee and staff members have been working on the proposed ordinance since July, but until now had said there would be no effect on Home Depot's plans because the applications had all been turned in before work on the ordinance began.

But exceptions to the ordinance could still be possible.

Yesterday, committee members agreed that developers who want buildings larger than 60,000 square feet can apply for exceptions, called development agreements.

The wording on development agreements was decided at the committee's meeting yesterday, and the big-box ordinance proposal's language was set earlier this month.

At its meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, the committee will consider approving both items. If they pass, both rules will head to county planning commissions and the Board of Supervisors for final OKs.

Planning Committee members voted unanimously yesterday to require builders who want to exceed the 60,000-square-foot limit to show how their planned developments will benefit the public. They also have to include information on sales tax and government revenue; employment and displacement of workers; analysis of whether the proposed buildings provide new services to the area; justification for exceeding the size limit; and an analysis of the business' economic reinvestment in the local community.

Developers would still have to abide by the county's big-box ordinance and hillside guidelines, as well as any other county regulations, even if they are allowed to exceed the size limit.

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