I was disappointed to learn of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation to approve a special permit for the construction of a Dollar General store on Highway 61 South near Sutterer Place.
One of the considerations for approval of a special use permit is that it not be in conflict with the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The future land use map of the 2011 Comprehensive Plan (page 72), which is the map currently in use, envisions the property being zoned “Residential or Agricultural” although the zoning change was never made. Perhaps now is the time to make that change.
Another consideration is whether the project will have an adverse effect on the character of the existing neighborhood. Given that Sutterer Place consists of higher-end homes on large lots – very desirable properties in today’s market – it seems clear that the installation of a bargain store would have an adverse effect on the character of that neighborhood.
Several of the residents of the neighborhood, along with one food store owner, attended 3 meetings to voice opposition to the permit. The citizens in attendance have long-standing records of being in service to our community. The group included owners of businesses that invest heavily in community events, teachers, guidance counselors, health care providers, and a former Chamber president. These are civic-minded people who have invested their careers, their volunteer time and their company profits into a long-term vision for our community. If this particular group of people says Dollar General is not a good fit for that location, city officials would do well to listen. (Full disclosure: I am related to many of the residents of Sutterer Place.)
As one attendee pointed out, there is more to consider than just this one exception to a rule. Building a Dollar General store in that location will set the tone for a warehouse-style, bargain-buy commercial district. Is that what we want to create in that particular location? The current comprehensive plan would seem to indicate that we do not. And a reliable committee of citizens supports that plan’s vision. I encourage the Board of Aldermen to vote no on the Dollar General’s Special Use Permit application.