The Vallejo Planning Commission gave the go-ahead on Monday for a “mega” Chega retail store on the former Food 4 Less grocery store in the north of Vallejo.
The main use permit is for the 17,056 square meter site on 5184 Sonoma Boulevard in the Meadows Plaza Shopping Center. The V-Town Farms business will take over the lease from an existing cannabis company, the HTP Group.
The space will have retail sales, manufacturing, and distribution, but no annex.
The only no to the move came from Vice Chairman Kathleen Diohep.
Prior to voting for approval, contributions from some members of the community and businesses adjacent to Meadows Plaza were focused on the commission to allow proposed owners more time to involve other businesses in the area, get more feedback from the community, and the long term Effects to consider in the area.
SG Ellison identified as the nearby business owner who had only heard of the proposal last Tuesday and said he was concerned that the whole deal would be accelerated.
“We are very concerned,” he said during the public comment. “The impact on development in the neighborhood is worrying.” He also said the buyers, Charles Wesley and his two sons, did not do any publicity work.
Rhonda Chadwick of the nonprofit Homegrown Holistic Collective, a medical cannabis dispensary on the Meadows Way, said things were moving too fast.
“I provide medication for women with cancer. If this major operation is capable of killing Mom and Pops, I want them to take on these ladies. We made them available free of charge. I want a guarantee that the city has good business practices. “
There were also calls for support for the company during the community forum. The owner of the Food 4 Less property, Joseph Raminey, said after buying it in April last year, he contacted “almost every single” grocery retailer in the state and got no interest in it, even though it had been vacant since 2016. He praised it the Wesleys for improving the landscaping, removing the plague, and redesigning the parking lot.
A woman who identifies herself as the owner of the sushi grill at the Meadows Center told the commission that she appreciates the work the Wesleys have already done on the property and hopes it will keep her business going and possibly invite other businesses going to open up as good.
“The security forces are a tremendous help,” she said. “The homeless are coming and causing a riot. We have a great relationship with Chuck and his team. I have high hopes for her. “
Members of communities where there are other Wesley-run cannabis companies called and added their support. They said the family in Rio Vista and Antioch have been good community administrators, giving money to many good causes such as hunger for bread and fish, outreach, Thanksgiving dinner for the needy, and restoring a Little League franchise. The Wesleys told the commission that they regularly donate $ 2,500 per month to the Sports Hall of Fame and Delta Veterans in Antioch, and donate $ 100,000 to Beat The Streets, which is aimed at the families of those detained.
Aside from donating locally, their business would add $ 2 million in fees for Vallejo alone, excluding sales and excise taxes, they claimed. They told the commission that 200 “living wage” jobs would be created and told the Times-Herald that wages would start at $ 20 an hour. They will also offer 401K and full health benefits, they said.
The location of the business has indeed been neglected and tainted, with frequent illegal dumps, graffiti, and dumps for the indigenous at times. By having armed guards on the premises 24/7, the Wesleys are saying they will curb such activity and have already done so by taking the steps they have already taken to improve the lot.
The planning commission has drawn a line in the sand: The new owners have to install front windows so that 60 percent of the shop interior can be seen from the outside. The Wesleys tried to argue that the existing glass doors already explain this, but the city disagreed. Installing windows in the brick building was expensive and structurally challenging, they argued, but if it meant being able to open, they agreed.
One caller noted that the Wesleys “had already been caught doing illegal construction,” referring to work being done on site without a permit, which resulted in them being “marked in red”. The chairman of the planning commission, Diosdado “JR” Matulac, assured the committee that the Red Tag issues had been addressed and that they were now “compliant”.
Diohep agreed with concerns about a lack of transparency and publicity for V-Town Farms’ proposal. She suggested that they should take more time if they decided to expand their business even further.
“You (must) cancel in advance,” she said. “We’d expect you to come back and work with the community before any expansion.”
Ultimately, Diohep endorses the business as a whole, adding, “I like the idea of being the biggest company outside of Las Vegas.”