Neighborhood Residents Worry About Traffic, Noise
FONTANA - Vanessa Nash worries a new Home Depot at the city's southern end will worsen her traffic headache.
"Traffic has been horrendous since the day I moved in,'' said Nash, who moved to Fontana seven years ago.
Nash and other residents must sit through multiple traffic-light changes to get on Interstate 10 near where the store will be built.
But Kevin Walker sees the home-improvement store near his neighborhood cutting down the commute he used to make to the other side of the city for hardware items.
"There's no reason we have to drive out of our area to pick up something from the hardware store," said Walker, who travels from Southridge to north Fontana to a home-improvement store there.
The City Council listened to residents for three hours Tuesday evening before unanimously approving the 137,344-square-foot home-improvement store at Sierra and Santa Ana avenues.
The majority of residents spoke in opposition of the project, fearing already congested streets would become worse with the addition of a Home Depot. Some were concerned noise from the store along with trucks hauling goods to the business would disturb their residential neighborhoods.
The community is changing too quickly, said resident Faye Williams.
"Our neighborhood has been imposed upon with too many projects in too short a period of time," she said.
In addition to the Home Depot, the community has a new post office, retail center and warehouses nearby which all generate traffic, she said.
Streets will be widened and signage will be added to discourage Home Depot delivery trucks and customers from traveling through neighborhoods to reach the store. It is estimated that roughly 100 trucks will make deliveries to the store each week.
Also, a landscaped parkway and vine-covered 7-foot-tall barrier facing Santa Ana Avenue is expected to help minimize noise and car headlights at the site. In addition, the store's parking-lot lights will be turned off 30 minutes after the store closes.
"I really believe we've done everything we can to mitigate" the impacts to the neighborhood, Mayor Mark Nuaimi said, adding it is an important project for the community.
"You're going to have more convenience," he said.
Residents asked the council to treat the south end of the city like the north in terms of aesthetics. North Fontana has both a Lowe's and a Home Depot.
"You're going to get the quality of the north in the development of the south," Nuaimi said.
But Diane Fernandez, who lives in nearby Presley Estates, argued that the 13.7-acre site is not a good location for a Home Depot because homes are located across the street.
"The whole idea of constructing this huge store on that tiny parcel of land right in the midst of our quiet, upscale neighborhood was not to better the community," she said.
She claimed planners and the developer did not care how the project would affect her community, but rather how much money was spent on the project and how much money the project would generate for the city.
The project will bring in money to city coffers from property and sales taxes and go toward paying for city operations such as police and graffiti removal, Nuaimi noted.
Resident Sue Kendall said she felt the city sold out its residents by allowing the Home Depot.
"Citizens are no longer the backbone of south Fontana," Kendall said.
The property should be zoned residential, she said.
"I would rather look out my front door and see homes," she said.
The area was once envisioned as the home of a regional mall like Ontario Mills, the mayor said. Had that been built, traffic would have been even worse than what the Home Depot will generate, he said.
The site also has space for a small retailer and a restaurant, possibly an International House of Pancakes.
Construction could begin in the winter or spring, said Frank Coda, Home Depot's architect. It will take six to nine months to build, he said.