There are already four places to buy beer and wine near the intersection of Bullard Avenue and Figarden Drive in northwest Fresno. Now get ready for one more.
A new 24-hour AM/PM store with fuel pumps — and a liquor license — won approval Thursday from the Fresno City Council to build on the vacant southwest corner of the intersection. Councilman Steve Brandau, who represents northwest Fresno, was joined in voting for the project by council colleagues Garry Bredefeld, Luis Chavez and Esmeralda Soria. Council President Clint Olivier abstained.
The vote overrides the recommendation of the city’s planning staff, who urged denial of the permit needed for property owners Sandy and Surina Mann to secure a license from the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control allowing the sale of beer and wine for off-site consumption. The Manns said that without the off-sale liquor license and the volume of sales it would generate, they would not be able to move forward with the project.
Besides the AM/PM store with eight gasoline pumps, the property will also have a fast-food restaurant with a drive-thru lane and a small retail building.
About 30 people opposing the store showed up, many wearing red T-shirts emblazoned with an image of a crossed-out beer can and the slogan, “Save the Loop — No 24-hour AM/PM.” More than a dozen people — including some connected with a Shell gasoline station and mini-mart that also sells alcohol across the street at the southeast corner and owners of other nearby liquor stores — argued that allowing AM/PM at the corner would be harmful to their businesses.
“It’s going to take sales from the businesses that are already there; it’s going to cannibalize it,” said Gwen Burt, who owns the property on which the Shell station sits.
The Rev. Darrell Regensberg of the Lifeway Baptist Church on Bullard just east of Figarden said his main concern was about the addition of another alcohol place in the immediate vicinity and not its 24-hour operation. He said his church grounds are frequently littered with beer cans and other debris from people who buy alcohol nearby and then drink it there. “We see the people that alcohol destroys,” he said. “The gas doesn’t destroy, the food doesn’t destroy. The alcohol destroys.”