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Work began this week in Windsor to clear the way for a new Oliver’s Market, which will add a much-anticipated supermarket to the west side of town.

A new grocery store next to Windsor’s Town Green is something officials have sought for years to help bring more business to Town Green Village shops and as a convenience for nearby residents.

The 34,000-square-foot Oliver’s is part of the first phase of Bell Village, one of the largest mixed-use, residential-commercial projects to be approved in Windsor.

“It’s pretty big news — the work has finally begun on that site,” said Windsor Planning Director Ned Thomas.

Oliver’s general manager Tom Scott said Wednesday the store is expected to open next summer, by August or September.

“We’re excited about it. And the feedback we’re getting from residents of the area, they’re really excited we’re coming,” he said. He added that someone calls the company’s business office on an almost daily basis to inquire about the Windsor store, whether it’s to ask when it will open or about job opportunities.

Bell Village, which includes 387 apartments and 83,500 square feet of commercial space, including Oliver’s, offices, and a restaurant, is expected to help provide a “24/7” vibrancy to the downtown.

The project is on 25 acres that formerly comprised Windsorland mobile home and trailer park, located just west of Highway 101 and east of Old Redwood Highway.

Some redwood trees were cut down last winter to make way for street improvements associated with the shopping center and residential project.

Now clearing and demolition work is beginning on the site for the commercial portion, which is being developed first.

“The old RV foundations are being cleared out,” said David Hunter, the construction manager for the developer, Oakmont Senior Living.

The company is known for building retirement communities. It plans to relocate its offices adjacent to Oliver’s on the second floor of a new building, with other tenants occupying the first floor.

Oakmont Senior Living sold its interests in the residential portion to a Southern California developer who is planning to build the apartments, according to Planning Director Thomas.

This week, asphalt from the old Windsorland roads, along with curbs and gutters, are being ground up around protected trees.

“We have an arborist on the site making sure everything is done properly,” Hunter said.

Next comes grading work, followed by underground work installing sewer, water and power lines.

Hunter said the utilities work is expected to take two to three months. Construction is expected to begin on the Oliver’s building toward the end of the year, but he said completion could depend on the weather and rainy season.

While there is a Safeway and a Raley’s on the east side of Highway 101, Oliver’s will provide more choices and be closer to west-side residents.

Oliver’s touts the high number of locally produced foods that it carries — about 5,000 products from Sonoma County growers and manufacturers, and its selection of both natural and conventional groceries.

“Our mix of goods is significantly different,” Scott said. “Our kitchens produce things you can’t find in Windsor right now.”

Oliver’s opened its first store in Cotati in 1988 and added two more locations in Santa Rosa. It has 783 full- and part-time employees, according to Scott.

California pot: Smoke it (or eat it) if you can get it

OAKLAND — It wasn’t exactly reefer madness Monday as California launched the first legal sales of recreational marijuana, but those who could find the drug celebrated the historic day, lining up early for ribbon cuttings, freebies and offerings ranging from cookies to gummy bears to weed with names like heaven mountain.

Jeff Deakin, 66, his wife Mary and their dog waited in the cold all night to be first in a line of 100 people when Harborside dispensary, a longtime medical pot shop in Oakland, opened at 6 a.m. and offered early customers joints for a penny and free T-shirts that read “Flower to the People — Cannabis for All.”

“It’s been so long since others and myself could walk into a place where you could feel safe and secure and be able to get something that was good without having to go to the back alley,” Deakin said. “This is kind of a big deal for everybody.”

Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo used a giant pair of scissors to cut a green ribbon, declaring, “With these scissors I dub thee free,” before ringing up the first customer at a cash register.

Sales were brisk in the shops lucky to score one of the roughly 100 state licenses issued so far, but customers in some of the state’s largest cities were out of luck. Los Angeles and San Francisco hadn’t authorized shops in time to get state licenses and other cities, such as Riverside and Fresno, blocked sales altogether.

Licensed shops are concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, around Palm Springs, San Jose and Santa Cruz, where the KindPeoples shop tacked up a banner Monday declaring, “Prohibition is Over!”

The state banned what it called “loco-weed” in 1913, though it has eased criminal penalties for use of the drug since the 1970s and was the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in 1996.

California voters in 2016 made it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess and use limited quantities of marijuana, but it wasn’t legal to sell it for recreational purposes until Monday.

The nation’s most populous state now joins a growing list of states, and the nation’s capital, where so-called recreational marijuana is permitted even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.

The signs that California was tripping toward legal pot sales were evident well before the stroke of midnight. California highways flashed signs before New Year’s Eve that said “Drive high, Get a DUI,” reflecting law enforcement concerns about stoned drivers. Weedmaps, the phone app that allows customers to rate shops, delivery services and shows their locations, ran a full-page ad Sunday in the Los Angeles Times that said, “Smile California. It’s Legal.”

Travis Lund, 34, said he’d been looking forward while working the graveyard shift to buy weed legally for the first time since he began smoking pot as a teen.

“I’m just stoked that it’s finally legal,” he said after purchasing an eighth of an ounce of “Mount Zion” and another type of loose leaf marijuana at Northstar Holistic Collective in Sacramento, where the fragrance of pot was strong. “I’m going to go home and get high — and enjoy it.”

—Associated Press

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Find more in-depth cannabis news, culture and politics at EmeraldReport.com, authoritative marijuana coverage from the PD.

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