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Store zoning backed

Thursday, May 15, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County Planning Commission on Wednesday endorsed a rezoning request for a Dollar General store across from Sanville Elementary School.

However, the planning commission has requested that the Henry County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) be informed that the commission does not recommend a corresponding special use permit that PAR 3 Development Group LLC also requested.

PAR 3 requested the rezoning and the special use permit for a property located at 3874 Stones Dairy Road, Bassett. PAR 3 plans to construct a Dollar General store at the site.

On a 4-1 vote, the planning commission recommended that the property be rezoned as neighborhood commercial B-2, which allows for light commercial development of retail businesses up to 2,000 square feet.

The special use permit that PAR 3 requested, which is to be considered by the BZA at its May 28 meeting, would grant PAR 3 permission to construct a 9,100-square-foot store, rather than limiting it to 2,000 square feet.

Lee Clark, Henry County director of planning, zoning and inspections, said he and his staff had recommended the site be zoned as neighborhood commercial B-2 rather than commercial B-1 because the former would prevent heavier commercial uses on the site, such as an auto repair garage or a used car lot.

At Wednesday’s meeting and public hearing, Clark said PAR 3 had agreed to plant a double row of Leyland cypress on either side of the lot to provide a 10-foot-wide buffer and screen the store from the view of neighboring residences.

Also, Clark said, he felt the site was appropriate for the requested use, because “there are several other commercial businesses within a short distance in both directions. ... Stones Dairy Road, in my opinion, could not be a better-built road or a safer road for the proposed and existing entrances.”

During the public hearing, four Sanville residents — Ron Howard, Herbert Dillinger, Wendy Campbell and Brad Doss — said they did not favor the construction of the Dollar General.

“I’m really opposed to this for a number of reasons,” Howard said. “The biggest reason is, it’s going to be right directly across from the elementary school. I have concerns about big trucks coming in and out. ... I just don’t think that we need that kind of development up in that area. ... We like the community like it is. I really don’t see how it benefits the area at all.”

Doss agreed. “I’ve been living in the Sanville community for about 20 years. ... I don’t think this is a good idea for our community. My biggest concern is the school and the safety of the children,” he said.

Campbell said she didn’t believe the community would benefit from a Dollar General.

“Jobs we need desperately, but I don’t think we need to put a growing business in front of our school,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going to be safe for our kids going back and forth. It’s just concerning for our property values. We have an older community that lives over there. I don’t think they need people running through their backyards. Cypress trees aren’t going to keep them out.”

Dillinger, who lives on property that adjoins the site, said that if the Dollar General is built, he would like a chainlink fence erected between the two properties.

Both Campbell and Howard expressed concern that a Family Dollar soon would be built nearby if the Dollar General were constructed, as they have observed that the two retail franchises often build in close proximity.

One area resident, Clifford Stone, spoke in favor of the Dollar General.

“I was raised in the Sanville community,” Stone said. “I’ve lived there all my life. I went to Sanville school. I am for progress, and I am for anything that creates jobs in this economy that we have. ... I don’t know how many jobs it would create, but I know it would take several to operate this building and (it could put) more dollars ... into our community. I personally think it’s a plus.”

Added Stone, “If you keep everything so screwed down, nothing’s ever going to happen. Our county needs some tax base, because every time I get my real estate bill, it’s gone up. You’ve got to find other ways to bring revenue into the county.”

Following the public hearing, commission member Paul Setliff of the Ridgeway District, said that his biggest concern was that if the BZA were to grant the special use permit allowing PAR 3 to construct a 9,100-square-foot business on a site zoned for a maximum of 2,000 square feet, it would go against the original intent of neighborhood commercial B-2 zoning.

“When you go four times the square footage of what the neighborhood commercial represents,” Setliff said, “you sort of have blown away what you intended to do with the neighborhood commercial (zone).”

Commission member Fred Spencer of the Collinsville District, said the question of the special use permit was up to the BZA and was outside the scope of the planning commission’s decision on the rezoning request.

Clark recommended that any concerns regarding the special use permit be passed along to the BZA, which he said is common practice.

Clark added that if the property is rezoned to neighborhood commercial B-2 and PAR 3 does not build a Dollar General on the site, any other small retail business potentially could build there.

Commission member Hal Dee West of the Blackberry District, said that although he had concerns about the proposed Dollar General, “with the intent of the neighborhood commercial zoning ordinance, and looking at it strictly from land use, then I think that is an appropriate rezoning. Now, I don’t think it should be intensified (through the special use permit) ... but to rezone it is appropriate.”

The commission voted 4-1 to recommend the rezoning and pass along the concerns regarding the special use permit to the BZA. Setliff, who also is a member of the BZA, cast the dissenting vote.

The Henry County Board of Supervisors will vote on the planning commission’s recommendation at its regular monthly meeting on May 27.


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