FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Fresno planning officials approved a new Coca-Cola distributing center in the city Wednesday evening, but those living close to the proposed site were also present to oppose the proposal in person.

The old center is currently located on East Malaga in South Central Fresno, but staff members say it’s in dire need of expansion.

On Wednesday evening at the City of Fresno Planning Commission meeting, the commissioners voted on whether or not to approve the development permit application. Advocates against the plant wanted to delay the vote saying they needed more time to speak with Reyes Coca-Cola on mitigations and further develop the South Central Specific Plan which is currently incomplete with the City of Fresno.

Despite some concerns during public comment, the planning commission approved the permit, 5-0.

A representative for Reyes Coca-Cola, Pehr Peterson told the commission members that they are currently operating at capacity and need room to expand now and in the future. The current Malaga location is 65,000 square feet. The new proposed location would include a 206,881 square-foot warehouse building on a vacant 14.78-acre lot that is zoned for heavy industrial.

According to Reyes Coca-Cola, this building would be able to fit all of its operations under one roof. This would include over 23,000 square feet of office space, a truck wash, and a truck maintenance shop. The facility would be primarily used as a storage and distribution facility for the company.

The proposed location was met with opposition from groups like the Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability. They argued they need more time to assess the impacts of the proposed project’s environmental impacts.

“The location of this proposed project is in the top 1% of the most pollution burdoned communites within the entire State of California.”

“Moving forward with this application contributes to a long-standing pattern of concentrating industrial facilities and development within south-central Fresno.”

“It will continue to perpetrate disproportionate environmental impacts that place vulnerable communities at risk”.

-Natalie Delgado, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

Reyes Coca-Cola said that staying at the old building is not a choice. Besides outgrowing the current facility they have found it very difficult to attempt to install solar and EVs without a significant investment.

They also added that they want to be committed to Fresno, but if the City and the County don’t want them, there are other places that would certainly welcome them – taking their 214 jobs with them.

“On day one that this isn’t new jobs, but we need a new facility and we need new operations. So if the City of Fresno and the county do not want us here, the easy answer is we are going to end up somewhere else.”

“So it might not be new jobs on day one with us moving here, but it would be a loss of jobs if this isn’t approved because we would be moving somewhere else. There would be other communities that would take us in.”

-Pehr Peterson, Reyes Coca-Cola reached out to Fresno City Council Member District 3 Miguel Arias for comment on the distribution center but did not receive a response.