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Dollar General OK'd for Sanville

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a rezoning request for a proposed Dollar General store across from Sanville Elementary School.

The board approved the rezoning in a 5-1 vote. Blackberry District Supervisor Jim Adams, whose district includes the proposed store site, cast the dissenting vote.

About 75 people attended the public hearing preceding the vote. Based on a show of hands, the group was approximately split, half in favor of the rezoning, half opposed.

PAR 3 Development Group LLC asked that the supervisors approve rezoning 2.7 acres at 3874 Stones Dairy Road from neighborhood commercial B-2 to commercial B-1, which would allow PAR 3 to construct a 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store on the site.

At its July 9 meeting, the Henry County Planning Commission voted unanimously not to endorse the rezoning to the supervisors. The commission felt that the heavier commercial uses allowed by B-1 zoning are not appropriate for the location.

However, Adams pointed out that there is no way to predict the success or failure of the business, and concerns over what heavier-use businesses could move into the site should Dollar General shutter its doors were beyond the scope of the board.

Reed Creek District Supervisor Tommy Slaughter agreed that the success or failure of the business was not for the supervisors to consider.

Slaughter added that one of the concerns voiced about the Dollar General — that it would sell alcohol — was untrue, and that the store currently has no plans to sell alcohol. If those plans were to change in the future, he said, the company would have to come before the board to request that change.

All six supervisors stressed their desire that the zoning decision, which has been a source of dissension in the Sanville community, would not divide neighbors.

“I would applaud each and every one of you,” Adams said, for being respectful of one another’s differences of opinion.

Attorney Ward Armstrong, who is representing PAR 3, said at the beginning of the hearing that due to concerns that had been expressed about the design of the building being too utilitarian, PAR 3 offered to use a store design already in place in Mt. Airy, N.C. The design features a more rural aesthetic, Armstrong said, including a gabled and pitched metal roof, faux windows with shutters and a monument-style sign as opposed to a pole sign, among other changes.

Armstrong pointed out that Henry County “has lived through many economic tribulations” and has been “as hard-hit as anywhere in the country.” While some might say that the Dollar General offers the county only 15 jobs, Armstrong said, “those are 15 jobs we didn’t have before.”

Both Armstrong and PAR 3 representative Lane Fuller pointed out that Dollar General has a 15-year lease on the site with five five-year options on the lease, indicating that the company “expects to be in business and paying taxes a long time,” Armstrong said.

Sanville-area residents who spoke in favor of the rezoning during the public hearing included Cindy Donovant, Lois Ratliff (in a letter read by Lonnie Stone), Clifford Stone and David Stone.

“I’m very concerned about the message we’re sending to the business world,” Donovant said, expressing concern that the long path that PAR 3 had taken to construct the Dollar General suggested the county was averse to new businesses.

“I don’t think our county can afford to make it so hard” to bring business to the area, she added.

In a letter to the board, Ratliff echoed Donovant’s concern that the county was “turning down economic growth” by denying the request.

Clifford Stone said that while many have expressed concerns that the store will cause traffic problems or issues with litter, he was unfamiliar with any similar problems caused by any other Dollar General stores in the area.

Clifford Stone added that he recently visited the county’s building inspection department, and according to Stone, three commercial building permits had been issued in the county in 2014 and eight in 2013.

“You don’t get growth issuing three permits a year,” he said.

Tressi Sanchez, Virginia Hoyt, Jeff Nunley, Troy Joyce and Patty Johnson spoke against the rezoning. Their concerns included traffic into the business interfering with school traffic at Sanville Elementary School, potential retail growth in the quiet community, undue competition with Adam’s Grocery down the road, litter in the parking lot and people loitering in the parking lot after hours, among other concerns.

Johnson and Sanchez also expressed doubt at PAR 3’s claim that the store would have only one delivery truck stop per week.

The supervisors previously approved re-zoning the site from suburban residential S-R to neighborhood commercial B-2. However, that limited the size of the building that could be constructed on the site to 2,000 square feet, meaning that PAR 3 would have to obtain a special use permit from the Henry County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to construct the intended 9,100-square-foot building.

The BZA denied that request at a May 28 meeting.

Also at the board’s 6 p.m. meeting, the supervisors:

• Heard matters presented by the public.

Teresa Thomasson told the board that she would like to see street lights installed along Greensboro Road from Morehead Avenue to Mountain View Cemetery.

Thomasson’s daughter, Jennifer Courtney Thomasson, was killed Jan. 9 when a speeding driver in the wrong lane of traffic struck her vehicle.

While Teresa Thomasson said little could have been done to prevent her daughter’s death, the lights would be a fitting tribute to her memory and help illuminate a dangerous stretch of road.

Later in the meeting, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Resident Engineer Lisa Price Hughes said that VDOT had recognized a number of safety issues along that particular stretch of U.S. 220 South, and it has a safety project planned for next year to widen and pave the shoulders and reconstruct the guard rail.

Additionally, Hughes said, based on Thomasson’s concerns, VDOT engineers are looking into a variety of short-term and long-term improvements to the stretch.

The board also heard from David Mounts, who said he had concerns about Comcast’s billing practices and hoped the board of supervisors could use its resources to look into the situation.

County Administrator Tim Hall said that while the county is a Comcast franchise holder, it holds little sway over the corporation, though he would attempt to air Mounts’ issues.

• Held a public hearing and approved rezoning for a property at approximately 5968 Greensboro Road in the Ridgeway District from commercial B-1 to agricultural A-1.

Kenneth Covington, the owner of the property, told the county planning commission at its July 9 meeting that he intends to place a dwelling on the site.

• Heard an update on general highway matters from Hughes.

Hughes said a safety project on the southbound lane of Oak Level Road is nearing completion, and within a few weeks, traffic would be switched to opposite lane to complete the project. Completion is schedule for October.

 

 
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