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FILLMORE : Residents Get Jump on Protest of Liquor Store

No plans have been submitted, no permits requested, but already residents of a Fillmore neighborhood have mobilized against the idea of putting a combination gas station and liquor store next to their homes.

Some of the 80 homeowners who live in the well-kept neighborhood off California 126 at Levee Drive say the proposed business would increase traffic, expose children to the sale of alcohol, decrease property value and attract loitering.

But Kevin McSweeney, assistant planner for the city, said the residents are being “too picky” and that he does not see a conflict.

“I believe a gas station can go there if properly designed,” said McSweeney, who has reviewed the proposal for the project. “And I think it could be compatible with the neighborhood.”

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In addition to the gas station and liquor store, Zahid Shah, the owner of the property, has proposed building a carwash at the site. Shah could not be reached for comment.

The property is across Levee Drive from a neighborhood with at least 60 residents under age 18, said Lauren Vigil, who has lived there for seven years and who has spearheaded the campaign to halt the project.

“We are working families and we need to fight for the little that we have,” said Vigil, adding that 16 youngsters live within 100 yards of the proposed site. “We need to protect our children’s safety as well as our properties.”

There is no other business nearby and residents say that the gas station would increase traffic on the residential streets, making parents fearful of letting their children play outside.

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The 2 1/2-acre property is also the gateway to Fillmore from the west side of the city, and a gas station there would not be a welcoming site, said Trudy Garner, who has lived in the area for nearly seven years.

“I think it would be really ugly. Besides, we don’t need that sort of business in the city,” Garner said, adding that there are 16 Fillmore businesses selling alcohol within two miles of each other along California 126.

Although the city has a moratorium on new alcohol permits, Shah intends to transfer a permit from another gas station he owns in Fillmore to the proposed new business, McSweeney said.

Shah is expected to submit his application to the Planning Commission early next year, McSweeney said.

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