Dollar General Store ‘officially’ coming to Anza

The Community Hall Board of Directors at its Thursday, Oct. 26, meeting “officially” announced that a Dollar General Store is coming to the city with construction beginning early next year.

The general merchandise store will be built adjacent to the Community Hall on Highway 371 and will be sharing the Halls water well, Noel Donahue, Community Hall board president.

The agreement reached between the Community Hall board, Rubicon Design Group for Dollar General, 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington and staff, and the Cahuilla Band agreed to a plan that sidesteps a Riverside County prohibition against drilling any new wells in the Santa Margarita River (includes Anza) Watershed until a federal water rights case (U.S. v. Fallbrook Public Utility District) before the U.S. 9th District Court is adjudicated.

Making the construction of the Dollar General possible is the design plan to connect the new business to the established high capacity Community Hall well, which is not considered “new” since the ownership will be maintained by the Hall and partnered by the RDG.

Most pleasing and bringing claps and cheers from those attending the board meeting and board members is the agreement by RDG to pay all the costs of connecting the well, repairing and problems with the well including a new pipe casing to replace the aging casing that is rusting out. In addition, the agreement allows for repaving the Halls parking long and adding ADA ramps required by statute and enforced by the county.

The cost of the repairs and additions, according to Bill Donahue, who is heading up the needed repairs to the aging structure for the board, is estimated at $100,000. “It’s a cost we won’t have to pay,” said Donahue. “This is the best news we have ever had.”

The Community Hall that was initially built by all community hands is now under regulation by Riverside County with new health and safety standards. Code Enforcement, following numerous inspections, found the aging Hall had many problems that by regulation had to be corrected and by licensed contractors. The board gained a number of grants to help with many of the necessary repairs but still found themselves behind in completing those repairs. The new agreement will help cover the cost of many of those repairs.

“There were dozens of hurdles from the County Planning Department to overcome and we needed to make sure there was no issue that might drag us into the water lawsuit,” Noel Donahue said. “RDG reports that a representative of the Tribes has recently contacted them, expressing their support for this plan. RDG has overcome every other hurdle presented by the Planning Department and has submitted its water study (which they believed to be the final requirement from the County) before receiving County approval to move forward.

“Because we are finally at the point where it appears this project will move forward, it is time to make it public.”

She said Mike Railey of RDG will be coming to the Nov. 8 Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council (AVMAC) meeting to answer any questions.

“It appears that through cooperation between RDG, the Community Hall Board and Supervisor Chuck Washington’s office, we may finally see a new business built in Anza,” Donahue said. “This will provide jobs in the community and lower costs for products that many residents need.”

In other business the board reported that its $15,000 loan it had taken out for repairs should be paid off by Nov. 1. even though the bank account is still short by $1,100.

Board Member Donald Seddon noted that someone had nailed signs to the large pine tree in front of the parking lot that serves as the communities Christmas tree possible endangering it. He said the tree is considered sacred by the neighboring Indian tribe should not have been used as a signpost. The board ordered the sign removed and noted would enforce the rule never to nail anything to the tree or other large old trees along Highway 371 because “they are all considered sacred” by the tribes.

The treasurer reported there are currently 147 Community Hall members and discussed membership renewal processes that may soon be improved and tracked by computer systems being designed for the Hall.

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