Big box ruling on tap

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By ERIN MAYES

Planning commissioners will have their say this week on a proposed ordinance that would limit big-box stores in Tuolumne County to 60,000 square feet.

The three area commissions Columbia, Jamestown and Southern Tuolumne County will make recommendations on the ordinance to the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors, which has final say.

The county planning commission, whose jurisdiction includes all area not covered by the area commissions, will consider the ordinance on Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Supervisors are scheduled to hold a public hearing on the big-box ordinance and to perhaps make a final decision on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

The ordinance would affect all future projects and those still in the pipeline.

Home Depot which has submitted plans for a 90,000-square-foot store on Mono Way next to Hammond Ford, as well as for a 25,000-square-foot garden center and 7,000 square feet of outdoor sales would fall under the new rules.

The retailer is stalled in the planning process. The Community Development Department in April told developers their plans conflict with the rural character of the county.

But retail stores would not be the only businesses affected the ordinance would regulate the size of all office and commercial buildings, too.

Developers who want buildings larger than 60,000 square feet may apply for development agreements. But they would have to meet a laundry list of requirements to qualify, such as proving their projects provide a "public benefit," showing what new products and services would be introduced and having good reasons why buildings must be larger than 60,000 square feet.

Developers also would have to complete economic analyses to show the amount of sales tax and other revenue that would be generated for local government as well as the number of people who could lose their jobs as a result of new developments.

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The Union Democrat
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