Exeter Planning Commission approves new shopping center

By Reggie Ellis

The Exeter Planning Commission approved a new shopping center at its Jan. 20 meeting for the first time in a decade.

The eagerly anticipated Citrus Plaza will be located at the corner of Belmont and Visalia roads adjacent to Burger King and will include a drive-thru Starbucks. The design of the project includes three buildings, which will be subdivided into several retail stores and eateries, surrounding a large parking lot.

"We don't know what stores will be there other than Starbucks," City Planner Greg Collins said.

The project solidifies Visalia Road and Exeter's commercial corridor to the west. Visalia and Belmont roads are two of the busiest streets in Exeter, which is why a new street will be added at the rear of the center connecting Belmont to Elberta. Collins said both Visalia Road and Belmont will be widened following the construction of the center. Right and left turn lanes and signals will be added at the intersection.

The commission only had a few changes to the project. Planning Commissioner Bill Davis said the dumpsters should be moved from the center of the parking lot to one of the rear corners of the project. Architect Jim Schaefer said the dumpsters would not have been visible behind large shrubs and other landscaping, but said there wasn't any reason they could not be moved to the rear of the center.

The project is also the first new development in the city's Southwest Specific Plan for a 320-acre block between Visalia Road and Chestnut Street and Belmont Road and Elberta Road (See story on page 1). Behind the plaza will be an 8-foot wide bike path, with another 16 feet of landscaping on each side, winding from Visalia Road to Glaze Avenue. In order to build the path, the Locust-Grove Ditch, also known as the Johnson Ditch, will be piped underground between Visalia Road and Glaze Avenue along Belmont Road.

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