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Regulating Big Box Stores

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors Planning Committee is recommending that regulations be reduced for big box stores.

Currently a conditional use permit and an economic analysis are required for any large format retail center over 60,000 square ft. The Committee is recommending that those requirements be eliminated, but it was noted that the projects would still have to go through the full environmental review process and public hearing.

“The Committee felt that there’s still enough oversight by the county to make sure that any project that is proposed will be designed to be compatible with the community,” says Bev Shane, Community Development Director. “They felt that we are not losing our ability to make sure that anything new coming in, fits in with what we already have.”

The Committee only makes recommendations to the Board, and the Supervisors will vote on the matter at a later meeting, likely in July. Large format retail would still have to be located in areas zoned General Commercial or Heavy Commercial.

One of the Board of Supervisors goals for 2011 is to “promote economic development within Tuolumne County,” and to review regulations so that they “facilitate economic development without compromising public safety or compliance with state and federal requirements.”

The original ordinance implementing the 60,000 square ft. rule was passed in 2004, around the time that Home Depot expressed a desire to build an over 90,000 square ft. retail center.