This empty dirt lot at the corner of Bullard and Figarden in northwest Fresno is the future home of an ARCO gas station and the accompanying AM/PM. City staff recommends that the Planning Commission give the green light with one major caveat: no sales of beer and wine. And, some in the neighborhood want the project scrapped altogether.
The developer is Figarden Petroleum, Inc., part of a northern California company that has developed gas stations and restaurants throughout the state.
In addition to the pumps and a convenience store, the proposed owners plan to open a “Freddy’s” restaurant at the facility as well. The restaurant will feature a drive thru that will be open until midnight.
The owners say the facility could employ up to 75 people.
Vincie and Rog Lucido live in the neighborhood near the proposed ARCO.
“Surely, we don’t need any more alcohol,” Rog Lucido says as he sits down next to his wife speaking with GV Wire. He counts off three other stores that sell alcohol nearby.
“There’s a lot of liquor stores,” Vincie notes.
“We don’t need any more liquor,” Rog says. “Or Lotto,” Vincie adds.
But, the Lucidos aren’t the only ones unhappy with the project. There are eight letters filed with the city opposing the plan.
Fresno Unified School District lodged a complaint with the city. In a letter written by Assistant Superintendent Alex Belanger, he notes that although the ARCO project exceeds a 600-foot buffer zone as mandated by law, “the District does not support the license request and continues to have concerns regarding potentially dangerous interaction between students and the proposed operation.”
Pastor Darrell Regensburg of Lifeway Baptist Church wrote in an e-mail to the city, “We already have issues with the homeless in the area drinking and then making a mess, but the greater need in our area is to provide for families in an effective way and this isn’t it.”
Jagtar Singh owns the Shell station that would be across the street. He wrote in a letter to the city that the ARCO “will have negative consequences on our family business on a tremendous level.”
Attorney Daniel Stein, on behalf of a real estate client in the area, noted that the area doesn’t need another gas station because there are already eight nearby.
The location falls within Councilman Steve Brandau’s district.
“My job is to process and see if there are valid complaints here or do people just not like the project for whatever reason,” Brandau says. “So far, I’m getting a mixed bag. I think some people just don’t like the fact of a gas station going in there. And, people have some real valid concerns. I’m familiar with them. I’ve got some of the same concerns myself.”
The Lucidos aren’t necessarily against the empty lot turning into a project. Just, not an ARCO.
“We want the property developed, there’s no question about that. The question is, has someone looked at this area and interacted with the people that live here and say ‘what do you guys need?” Rog Lucido says. “That, to my knowledge, was never done.”
Brandau is being cautious. “I’m definitely going to take a wait and see approach. I can see both sides of this story at this point.”
A local representative of the Concord-based owners did not want to speak on camera until after the Planning Commission vote. That meeting takes place Wednesday night (July 19), 6 p.m. in City Hall.
cover photo: Michael Wooten