Ceres Wal-Mart Supercenter shopping center open to public review

CERES -- The Mitchell Ranch shopping center initial study is available for public review.

The 314,000-square-foot retail center plans include a Wal-Mart Supercenter. The review and comment period for the initial report runs through Oct. 5.

City staff also will hold two public meetings Sept. 19. The initial study is a precursor to the environmental impact report, and sets out which environmental factors potentially affected by the project should be investigated in the EIR.

Anyone attending the Sept. 19 meetings should not expect to argue the pros and cons of the Mitchell Ranch proposal or the supercenter. The public meetings will focus on which elements need to be studied in the EIR.

"We're not going to be debating the actual merits of the project," said Tom Westbrook, Ceres senior planner.

The 44-page initial study includes detailed plans and maps of Mitchell Ranch. The EIR will include analysis of how the shopping center will affect 15 environmental factors, including aesthetics, public services, noise, traffic and air quality, according to the document.

The Mitchell Ranch project is proposed at the northwest corner of Service and Mitchell roads in south Ceres. Plans call for restaurants and retail stores anchored by a 208,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Wal-Mart has a regular store at 1670 Mitchell Road. Supercenters are larger and sell more grocery products, including meats, fruits and vegetables.

While city officials are looking at the center to provide much-needed sales-tax revenue, some residents don't like the idea of locally owned businesses competing with two Wal-Marts.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.