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Truck lot decision again before Calexico City Council

October 15, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — For the third straight week, the City Council will consider letting the owner of 7 acres near the downtown Port of Entry build a truck lot on his land.

The twist this week is the permit the landowner needs would expire after two years.

In addition to revisiting the lot issue, the council could vote to support the construction of a sports complex that would accommodate three levels of Little League.

The City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 608 Heber Ave.

Last week the council voted 3-2 to deny the owner of 7 acres near the port, Raymond Lopez, a five-year conditional-use permit to build a truck lot on his land.

Before voting, the council heard from a Los Angeles developer interested in building a huge shopping mall near the New River and downtown port on acreage that would include Lopez's land.

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The council then heard from representatives of the merchants on the north side of Second Street. Those representatives said the truck lot could cause more traffic congestion and affect their business.

Truckers in support of a new truck lot have addressed both the City Council and the city Planning Commission. They have said their rigs are being vandalized in the existing truck lots throughout the city.

To address the truckers' concerns, city Planning Director Ricardo Hinojosa wrote in conditions to the use permit for which Lopez is applying.

Before Lopez will be allowed to build a lot near the port he will have to install security lighting and provide a night watchman.

The Los Angeles developer, Armin Gabay of M&A Gabay, said the possible improvements to the land would have no value to his firm.

If the truck lot is approved and Gabay is successful in securing the money to buy land near the New River, he indicated his firm would just tear up the lot and build the first phase of the shopping mall project, since the 7 acres is in a prime location near the duty-free store.

The "if" surrounding the possibility of Gabay securing the money is a big "if."

He is asking the city's Redevelopment Agency to put up 75 percent of the cost of the land.

Gabay said his firm would pay back the more than $3 million to the city in no more than 18 months once he made speculative deals with companies interested in setting up in a shopping complex near the New River.

The RDA has not decided if it will partner with Gabay on the project but City Attorney Michael Rood said a consultant is looking over an agreement that could be brought before the RDA board.

The time frame of the shopping mall project is an important issue for the council as it examines the possibility of a truck lot.

Lopez has argued that he should be allowed to develop his land despite the speculative plans.

He had threatened to sue the council after its vote last week.

After the council votes on the truck lot, it will discuss the Little League field proposal.

Mayor Victor Carrillo said any new Little League fields would be separate from any aquatic center the council is looking into building.

In a letter to the council, Wilfredo Real, Calexico Little League president, wrote, "The city of Calexico is in urgent need of a sports complex. At present, we only have two and these are in need of repairs. District 22 administrators have advised us for the past two years that if we don't comply with required safe and proper fields they will not allow our participation in their league."

Carrillo was asked if "support" from the city means financial assistance or a city-built sports complex for Little Leaguers.

He said "support" could entail helping the Little League secure donated land.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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