Business & Real Estate

These small business owners won their battle against developers by buying a vacant lot

FILE -- In this Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, file photo, customers exit a Dollar General store in San Antonio. Owners of a small market in Redwood Valley, Calif., blocked a Dollar General store from being built across the street by buying the vacant property from the developers, Cross Development.
FILE -- In this Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, file photo, customers exit a Dollar General store in San Antonio. Owners of a small market in Redwood Valley, Calif., blocked a Dollar General store from being built across the street by buying the vacant property from the developers, Cross Development. AP File Photo

After a lengthy legal battle, owners of a small market in an unincorporated California community stopped a big-name chain store from moving in across the street—by buying the empty, 9,000-plus-square-foot property themselves.

Brothers Alex and Anthony Chehada announced earlier this week that their Redwood Valley Market, at the corner of E School Way and East Road in the census-designated place of the same name, will no longer face the impending competition of a 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store at 8451 East Road, the Ukiah Daily Journal reported.

The Chehadas had engaged in a multiyear struggle to stop Cross Development from building a store there. When one of their lawsuits failed in Mendocino County Superior Court, they pursued an appeal in the state appeals court. But Cross Development recently agreed to sell the property to the brothers (after declining to do so on previous occasions) before that court date, according to the Daily Journal.

Among sales conditions: Neither Cross Development nor the Chehadas can build a Dollar General or any other franchise on the property.

Other small towns, several in California, have tried to stop Texas-based Cross Development from opening Dollar General stores. Of note:

  • Kelseyville succeeded in their efforts to stop the chain last April, the Lake County Record-Bee reported.

  • In late 2016, the Tuolomne County Planning Commission voted 5-1 to reject a proposed store in the Lake Don Pedro community, per the Union Democrat. But in February 2017, the county's board of supervisors unanimously overturned that decision.

  • Another struggle has been documented in Gearhart, Ore., by the Daily Astorian, as a Dollar General along Highway 101 has continued development as of January 2018 despite earlier denials by the planning commission.

Dollar General operates more than 14,000 stores in the U.S., according to its website.

“If Dollar General came in, Redwood Valley would no longer be a valley with no traffic lights, it would become a city,” said Alex Chehada, who has lived in that area since 2004, according to the Daily Journal.

Efforts to stop may soon become easier in Mendocino County, thanks to a new formula business ordinance. As explained by Sarah Reith of KZYX public radio, the ordinance will make it difficult for chains with 10 or more franchises to build stores in unincorporated areas.

"We're thinking ahead now. The MAC board (Municipal Advisory Council), now they start thinking of what we need here in the Valley and what we should accept and what we shouldn't accept ... this is amazing for the future of Redwood Valley," Chehada told KZYX in a radio interview.

Located less than 10 miles north of Ukiah, Redwood Valley was in the path of the Redwood Complex Fire—one of several wildfires that devastated Northern California last October—and was subject to evacuation orders.

Alex Chehada told The San Francisco Chronicle at the time that some of his customers lost their houses in the blaze.

As for Alex's plans for the brothers' now-vacant property?

"I like it the way it is. Maybe I'll plant some olive trees," he told the Daily Journal.

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