Supes deny appeal against proposed Doyle Dollar General

An appeal to the approval of a use permit for the proposed Doyle Dollar General has gone through a roller coaster during the past few months, it seems, and the Lassen County Board of Supervisors issued a final decision on the matter by unanimously voting to deny the appeal, allowing the Dollar General project to move forward.

During the Thursday, Jan. 28 meeting, when snowy conditions may have prevented some from attending in person, both those in favor of the appeal and those against it voiced their opinions on the project.

Ultimately, the board voted to deny the appeal. Supervisor Tom Hammond recused himself from the decision.

The appeal was brought forth by Jagpreet (Jay) Singh, owner of the Doyle Payless, shortly after the Lassen County Planning Commission approved applicant Woodcrest Real Estate Venture’s use permit for a 9,100 square foot retail store off of Old Highway Road near Doyle in June 2 2020.

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Singh submitted the appeal June 12, and on July 6, Singh’s attorney, Eugene Chittock, submitted a letter recommending a traffic study and economic analysis be conducted before making a decision.

On July 28, a public hearing was held regarding the matter, and both motions to approve and deny the appeal failed for lack of a second, and the board ultimately did not take action, leaving the planning commission’s decision in place; however, the appeal proceedings were re-agendized Aug. 11 to allow supervisor Jeff Hemphill an opportunity to participate in the appeal decision, as he was absent at the July 28 meeting. At the Aug. 11 meeting, the board voted 3-1 to approve the appeal, with supervisor Aaron Albaugh as the lone no vote. Hammond again recused himself from the decision.

In October, the county received a letter from Robert, Johnson, Miller and Williamson, which represents Woodcrest Real Estate Ventures, alleging the decision made Aug. 11 to approve the appeal was “improper and illegal.”

The law office alleged Woodcrest was informed of the continued Aug. 11 meeting on the evening of Aug. 7, and alleged it was improperly noticed.

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Robert, Johnson, Miller and Williamson requested the county and board of supervisors confirm in writing on or before Oct. 19, “That in fact, the July 28 decision to deny the appeal and affirm the planning commissions approval is final.”

If not, the letter stated Woodcrest intended to file a suit.

A Nov. 2 letter from Abbott and Kinderman, Attorneys at Law, provided a recommendation that the board take up the question of whether the supervisors should set aside the earlier motion and conduct a new appeal hearing.

During a Nov. 5 special meeting, the board directed staff to schedule a public hearing to rehear the appeal.

During the new appeal hearing Jan. 28, county staff mentioned, based solely on the technical process, it was staff recommendation to deny the appeal and approve the project.

“There is no evidence, in the record, of significant traffic related impacts,” Planning and Building Assistant Director Gaylon Norwood said Thursday.

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Regarding economic impacts, Norwood added there was “nothing in the general plan to pull from to say how, or why we would recommend granting the appeal.”

Additionally, legal representatives for both the appellant and Woodcrest spoke, as well as some local business owners and county residents.

Those representing both the appellant and the use permit applicant made their cases.

Bret Cook, standing in for Chittock who was unable to attend, spoke on behalf of the Singhs, saying it would hurt other local businesses, saying it could force the Doyle Payless out of business, and impact traffic. He noted there was no basis to rehear this decision as the board made its decision in August.

Local business owner Josh McKernon, Morning Glory Dairy owner, spoke in favor of the appeal, saying it would hurt local businesses like his to bring another Dollar General to the county.

Woodcrest’s counsel Anthony Arger spoke in favor of the applicant’s, and against the appeal.

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“The meeting that took place on Aug. 11 was not held in a meaningful way, in a meaningful manner. There was clearly a decision that had already been made,” said Arger.

Arger later added there have been no finding from any agencies on the basis of traffic, and said the proposed Dollar General would not

Several residents also spoke, noting they were in favor of the store in Doyle to help bring lower cost items, limit the amount residents would have to drive on Highway 395 to lower risk.

The Lassen County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to deny the appeal, and adopt the negative declaration, allowing for Woodcrest to continue with the building permit process for a proposed Dollar General in the Doyle area.