Controversial Dollar General proposal gets OK from planning board

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, July 27, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — During a marathon meeting on Monday, the Rowan County Planning Board gave its approval to a controversial rezoning that would place a Dollar General at the intersection of Bringle Ferry Road and Providence Church Road.

About two dozen local residents — many of them opposed to the rezoning — turned out for the Planning Board meeting. The most significant item on the agenda was a conditional use rezoning for 2.21 acres of a 3.98-acre plot from rural agricultural to neighborhood business. As a result of the rezoning, requested by Venture Properties, a Dollar General would be placed on the land.

Concerns ranged from potential traffic congestion to changing the current community atmosphere. Most residents put it simply.

“Nobody wants a store in your yard,” said one speaker during the more-than-two-hour meeting.

Mary Jackson, one of the local residents who attended the meeting, said other Dollar General stores sit a short drive away from the proposed site. Jackson said she and her family hoped to move back to a house she owns near the proposed site. A Dollar General would make moving into the house less attractive, she said.

“It’s only a few more minutes to get to Walmart,” Jackson said. “I just think it’s a really bad idea.”

The most recent Dollar General request is the third in east Rowan in recent history that’s attracted significant opposition. Rowan County previously turned down a request near Morgan Elementary School. Another request failed near the Town of Faith.

Despite the concerns from locals, this Dollar General proposal passed by a 4-1 vote. However, certain conditions applied to the rezoning. One of the conditions, for example, was that the store sign be no larger than six feet.

Board member and architect Pete Bogle was the only no vote. Bogle mentioned that the Dollar General, if approved, would be one of the few commercially zoned tracts of land in a notable distance.

During the public hearing, Phyllis Clark, who owns the property in question, said she and her husband were only trying to help the community. As she gets older, Clark said she would prefer not to need to drive to a store for every purchase.

“We have good intentions and we feel like it would be an asset,” she said.

Board member Joe Coladarci argued most passionately in favor of the rezoning. Coladarci contrasted Rowan County’s wishes to grow the local economy with requests to keep rural areas free of significant development.

He said the county shouldn’t say “I don’t really want that in my neighborhood” to proposals that meet all required criteria.

Chairman Larry Jones, however, stressed that the planning board understood local residents’ concerns about traffic. He reiterated that traffic concerns weren’t focused on the possibility that more cars could be added to the daily count. Instead, local residents were worried that current problems would be compounded by a store. Cars might turn onto and off of Bringle Ferry Road — one of the busier roads in rural Rowan.

Near the end of the meeting, board member Rip Kersey noted that board members weren’t able to consider the specific store. Instead, they could only consider whether the submitted plan met the county’s requirements.

Some of the meeting’s attendees argued that they only found out about the rezoning proposal hours before the meeting. A sign notifying passersby about the rezoning had fallen onto the ground at the site, said multiple meeting attendees.

When asked about notification, Assistant Planning Director Shane Stewart said staff followed the same procedure that always occurs. Stewart says county staff placed a sign at the site and sent letters to property owners within 100 feet of the rezoning.

With its approval, the proposal next heads to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners for final approval. The Dollar General proposal hasn’t yet been scheduled for a specific meeting. However, commissioners’ next scheduled meeting is Monday.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.