Town OKs thrift store

By: Laura O’Brien Loomis News Correspondent
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Town Council gave another green light to a new Loomis thrift store. Despite an appeal, Council agreed with the Planning Commission and upheld the approval of Second Blessings Thrift Store at their Oct. 11 meeting. Amid parking concerns from neighbors, the commission had granted a permit for the store to the Loomis Basin Congregational United Church of Christ in August. Neighbor Jim Gill appealed the decision, but was not present at the hearing at last week’s Town Council meeting. In addition to providing affordable items, church leaders have said the store will help fund a small, low-cost, child-care operation at the church. Councilmembers clarified that their decision only pertained to the proposed thrift store. Public comment centered on the potential benefits to the community from the store and proposed day care. Church member Beth Williams began her remarks by invoking the motto on the town website’s homepage, “A small town is like a big family.” “(Members of) a family and a small town make accommodations for one another,” Williams said. The church property on King Road borders residential areas on three sides. A total of six neighbors have written letters against the store, four of which were template letters. Concerns included insufficient church parking and a fear that the store would change the rural residential character of the neighborhood. “I’m sure the church’s intentions were good,” Gill wrote in his August 15 appeal letter. “Sadly they have forgotten their neighbors.” The thrift store will occupy a 480-square-foot modular building on the church’s 3.5-acre property. The church has 34 total parking spaces, including four handicapped spaces. There also is grassy overflow parking. To address concerns about the danger posed by cars parked along King Road, town staff has erected “no parking” signs on one side of the street. The Planning Commission restricted store operation to 16 hours during weekdays, so all parking spaces would be available to weekend churchgoers. At the council meeting, church member Carole Larsen described how the church made changes in handling parking for a recent funeral service of a prominent member of the community. “Last time we were here we said we would be good neighbors,” Larsen said. “We are going to take care of this problem. We are not going to be putting people out on King Road on either side.” “I want to reiterate the importance of our thrift store,” she said. “Right now Americans as a whole are earning less. As many as one in six people are hungry. How can anyone not want to do something for their fellow citizen?” “If everybody does a small part pretty soon you’ll fill the bucket,” she added. Mayor Rhonda Morillas said members of her family have been part of the church dating back to the turn of the century, but she said she is not a member. In other business, the council postponed the first reading of its animal-keeping ordinance and sent the ordinance back to the Planning Commission. The commission will consider animal slaughtering on residential properties, animal-keeping setbacks, and the current code restriction of a total of four dogs and/or cats on small residential lots. Councilmember Miguel Ucovich called for examination of the code prescription of a max of four cats or dogs on small lots. The code does not take into consideration the size of the animals, Ucovich said.