LOS BANOS — Members of the City Council on Wednesday approved a plan by Circle K Stores to relocate to the northeast corner of Mercey Springs Road and Overland Avenue despite the objections of parishioners of a nearby church. The vote was unanimous, with Tom Faria absent due to personal reasons.
Circle K has every right to do business in this town, councilmembers concurred, despite objections by the members of New Canaan Missionary Baptist Church.
City Council also voted, in a 2-1 decision, to allow the already established liquor license to be transferred. Councilwoman Deborah Lewis opposed the transfer. “Whenever there was a Type 21 liquor license that came forward that was next to a school, to a park ... I would not vote for it,” she said.
The Rev. Phil Jenkins, on behalf of New Canaan, appealed the Planning Commission decision in August that recommended the project move forward.
A number of concerns were expressed by church members, such as graffiti, traffic, noise and crime.
Circle K representatives said they were willing to change their plans to conform to the conditions the city asked for, including building an 8-foot masonry wall, paint or remove graffiti within 24 hours on both sides of that wall, keep the project site clean, not allow the car wash to operate between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m., install blankets on the blowers and plant trees along the length of the 8-foot wall, as well as limit the signage to a single 20-foot pylon sign with a two-tier price system.
All of which Circle K agreed to do.
Jenkins said that the city’s mind had already been made up at the last council meeting and that the council did not take into consideration the church’s needs.
“We don’t feel like anything we said was taken into consideration,” he said. “But what you did do, did nothing for us.”
He also expressed again, that he doesn’t have a problem with Circle K , but only a problem with the fact that hard alcohol is going to be sold close to a place of worship.
“The meeting should be about what the city can bring to Los Banos for our youth,” Jenkins said. “They don’t need another liquor store. We have enough of that.”
New Canaan has been in operation for more than 30 years and has plans to expand to include a preschool-daycare, activity room and multipurpose classroom. The church has around 150 members. Jenkins said expansion would allow for growth.
“We’re going to continue to do what God has told us to do, with or without Circle K next to us,” he said. “We’re going to continue to be that light. We’re going to continue to be the beacon in this city. We’re going to do everything we can to bring youth and young adults together.”
Circle K is currently at the northwest corner of Mercey Springs Road and Overland Avenue, at 403 N. Mercey Springs Road, on less than half an acre. It consists of four fuel pumps and a convenience store. Relocating to a bigger lot across the street would allow a 4,500-square-foot “prototype” store with an eight-pump fuel station with canopy and a self-serve car wash. Circle K plans to break ground Jan 1.
Reporter Marina Gaytan can be reached at (209) 826-3831 ext. 6562 or mgaytan@losbanosenterprise .com.