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    Planners halt proposal

    Retailer's plan to develop on commercially zoned property denied

    FRESNO, Calif. -- Despite prior approvals, property rezoning and a prior owner that hasn't paid taxes since 1998, the Fresno Planning Commission last week rejected a convenience store project in Fresno's Fig Garden neighborhood.

    City planning staff had previously approved the project for a convenience store with gasoline islands, alcoholic beverage sales and a carwash, the Fresno Bee reported.

    Residents appealed to the planning commission and after two hours of testimony persuaded commissioners to halt the project in west-central Fresno.

    "I am not against convenience stores," said Nat Dibuduo, planning commission chair told the Fresno Bee. "I don't think that this is the right place at the right time or the right place at anytime."

    Explaining the 5-0 vote against the project, commissioners agreed with many of the arguments presented by 21 local residents, which included concerns about increased traffic, liquor sales and ways in which the store would potentially affect the neighborhood.

    The defeated c-store proposal had been offered by Gurnam Gill, president of Fresno-based Griffin's Enterprises, and had been approved by the City Planning Department. The plot has been zoned multi-family/commercial since 1987.

    The current property owner, Maragot Corp., is delinquent on three of its last four tax bills, according to records. As of Tuesday, more than $8,800 is owed for the years 1998, 1999 and 2001.

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