By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cheese Manufacturing Expected To Stay
Placeholder Image
Although a longtime cheese making plant in downtown Riverbank is preparing to move to a new industrial park in Modesto, another smaller, specialty cheese manufacturer hopes to buy the Santa Fe Street property and continue its activities there.

Rizo-Lopez Don Francisco Foods has operated for many years at the corner of Santa Fe and Second and is now negotiating to sell its property to Pacific Gold Milk Producers, which will require Pacific Gold getting a new permit to discharge wastewater into the city's treatment plant.

Twelve years ago city officials felt overburdened by Gangi Bros. tomato cannery plant discharges into the plant besides those of the much smaller Rizo-Lopez cheese processing operation. They ruled in a 2000 resolution: "The city will no longer permit wet industries to hook into our system. Special design and considerations may be permitted where the impact is not over the normal discharge."

At its last meeting, however, council members decided that since the tomato cannery closed down and economic circumstances have changed, the city must encourage manufacturing businesses and the jobs they provide even in the downtown and they will consider issuing another "wet industry" permit.

Development Services Director J.D. Hightower said he is not in any hurry to issue a permit until all requirements have been met but after discussions with Pacific Gold was seeking council assurance another permit would not violate city policy.

He especially asked whether council sees a need or demand for special design for a cheese plant. The parcel is zoned light industrial and if the current operation is not abandoned for more than six months, will continue to allow a cheese manufacturing operation.

A cheese plant at the center of town, he said, reinforces the community image as the home of the Cheese & Wine Exposition and a manufacturing plant creates more jobs than do business services.

This is, however, a residential, area and current operations have created some problems. These include trucks blocking the road, engine and refrigeration noise disturbing residents' sleep, milk spills and harmful pH levels of discharges into the wastewater system.

All these problems should be examined and mitigated in the permit, said officials.