FORT BRAGG, 12/14/20 — The Zaremba Group, LLC out of Lakewood, Ohio has applied to develop a Dollar General chain store on the corner of South Franklin and Maple streets, just south of Fort Bragg’s core business district. The proposed 9,100 square-foot retail operation would be open every day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Zaremba Group’s senior vice president John Wojtila said in an interview, “Zaremba has a contingent contract to purchase the property and will then own the property and develop the infrastructure and the building. Dollar General will operate the store.” The property will stay in the hands of Zaremba.
Chantell O’Neal, assistant director for the City of Fort Bragg’s engineering division, explained that city staff determine how a proposed project fits into land use entitlements. “In this particular application,” she said, “the Dollar General project is located outside of Fort Bragg’s Central Business District [CBD] and falls within the city’s General Commercial Zoning category.” Under this classification, development can be more intensive.
“We use land use tables to determine what kind of permit is required,” said O’Neal. “In this case the applicant is required to submit a design review permit [DR] application, and the city has thirty days to look at the project and to determine if it is in alignment with the permit codes and if it is subject to the California Environmental Quality Act [CEQA].“
If not enough information is given, the clock stops and city staff then sets up meetings with the applicant to gather more information. Once the application is complete, it is posted on the city’s website for the public to view. O’Neal said the Dollar General complete application was received on October 26. Dollar General application can be viewed at this link.
A CEQA review is a process whereby it’s determined if a project falls under CEQA — specifically whether the project will result in any adverse environmental impacts. If such adverse impacts are likely, planners must prepare a environmental impact report (EIR) that will contain in-depth information about the potential impacts, measures to reduce or avoid those impacts, and an analysis of alternatives to the project. If a project does not cause any adverse environmental impacts, the City will issue a document known as a negative declaration (ND). A mitigated negative declaration (MND) is applicable when potentially significant effects on the environment exist, but the effects can be mitigated to a point where no significant effect on the environment would occur. Included in the process is the opportunity for the public to review and provide input on NDs, MNDs and EIRs.
The City of Fort Bragg is the lead agency for the CEQA review . “We are in the process of making that CEQA determination right now, and it has not been made yet,” said O’Neal, “And that should happen in the next few days. The staff report will reflect the determination.”
O’Neal explained that since the city does not have adequate planning staff in-house, a planning firm is contracted out for the review process.
O’Neal said, “If the project is determined to fall under CEQA the process that usually takes another 30 to 45 days since it is more work for the review.”
O’Neal said that the public has two possible opportunities to weigh in on the Dollar General project. “If the project falls under CEQA,” she said, “the public can comment on the environmental impact report [EIR] or any of the other designations. If the project does not fall under CEQA, the public has an opportunity to provide comment within the ten days as the project goes to the Planning Commission. In either case, public notices are issued, printed in the Advocate News, posted on the city’s website and at the proposed site.”
The City of Fort Bragg Planning Commission can approve or deny the project. If the project is denied, the applicant can appeal the denial to the city council and the project can be amended or rejected. If the project is approved, the public can also appeal the approval to the City Council.
“All parties have the ability to appeal,” O’Neal said, adding that there is a thousand-dollar fee for appealing to the City Council.
The property where the Dollar General will be built is owned by Thomas A. Carine and Bessie Carine of Saratoga CA. To sign up and receive notifications about public hearing notices for projects before the Fort Bragg City Council or Planning Commission click on NOTIFY ME at the bottom of the city’s web page https://city.fortbragg.com/.