Public hearing Tuesday on proposed Coarsegold store

A public hearing will be held before the Madera County Planning Commission 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, on an amended conditional use permit for a one-story, 9,100 square-foot Dollar General discount retail store, proposed for 1.2 acres on the northeast corner of Highway 41 and Road 417 in Coarsegold.

The project’s developer is Embree Asset Group of Phoenix, and the hearing will be held at the Madera County government Center, 200 W. 4th Street, Madera.

The developer is also asking for a Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration on the project, which would allow construction without an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). County planners have recommended approval of the Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration, and California Environmental Quality Act processes are already underway, per staff planner Joey Dinh.

County planners feel out of 18 environmental factors potentially affected by the project, including water, traffic, air quality, noise, and aesthetics, the store would not have a significant effect on the environment because revisions to the project have been made by the developer.

In an 86-point check-off list, county planners found the project to have no potentially significant impacts, 29 less than significant impacts with mitigation measures, 24 less than significant impacts entirely, and 33 points with no impacts whatsoever.

There are however, 33 “Conditions of Approval” for the project, including:

*  Applicant will submit plans to the county public works department for a left-hand turning lane on Road 417 for traffic trying to enter the site, as well as a right-turning pocket for traffic continuing to travel north on Highway 41 from Road 417.

*  Meeting the minimum California Fire Code standards of 1,500 gallons of water per minute for two hours, from a fire hydrant within 400 feet of all portions of the building.

*  A solid masonry wall no less than 6 feet in height shall be constructed along any property lines that neighbors residential properties.

*  A full landscaping and irrigation plan shall be submitted to the county planning department for review.

According to an operational and environmental checklist submitted to the county by John Shields of the Embree Asset Group, Dollar General will connect to existing water lines on Road 417 to supply an estimated 540,000 gallons annually for irrigation on drought-tolerant landscaping, and 30,000 estimated gallons a year for store use.

Last year for more than a month, all homes in Indian Lakes were placed on the county’s most stringent water conservation measures when one of its wells failed. Residents were allowed no outdoor watering from July 24 until Sept. 1, when the well was restored.

Public response

In a 21-day review period which ended Feb. 23, five letters from the public were received by the county, all with negative comments about the store’s impacts to traffic and safety.

“Across the street from (the Highway 41/Road 417 intersection) is another subdivision and gas station/convenience store. This already is a very busy intersection,” wrote Carol Potter, secretary for the Indian Lakes Estates Property Owners Association, Inc., which unanimously opposes the project. “More traffic at this intersection would be devastating to our quality of life and safety.”

All five letters noted Road 417 is essentially the only route into the Indian Lakes subdivision, which contains more than 500 homes.

Additionally, though four letters were identical, each noted Road 417 is the sole entrance and exit for the Indian Lakes Fire Station that also serves Chuckhansi Gold Resort & Casino, and added traffic congestion could create a public safety risk as a result.

If approved by the commission, there would be a 15 day appeal period. If appealed by anyone, the project would go before the Madera County Board of Supervisors.

A formal appeal letter, along with a fee of $336, must be sent to the Madera County Planning Department to protest the project.

If no appeal is filed, the proposal will go back to the county building department for additional studies before construction can begin.

The complete county report on the project can be seen by going to and downloading the report by clicking on “item 1.”