Editorial: Rural charm meets chain development
As if there was any doubt, a planning board meeting on Monday night proved that Dollar General stores won’t be welcomed with open arms in Rowan County.
In recent years, the stores, with bold black letters on a bright yellow sign, have been popping up across Rowan County. And it’s no secret the discount store chain has embarked on a nationwide expansion in rural areas. A map on the company’s website indicates Dollar General has about a dozen stores in Rowan County, and the chain is poised to add a second in the Rockwell area following Monday’s meeting. Because, despite opposition from a number of nearby residents, the Rowan County Planning Board gave its approval to a rezoning that allows for the store at the intersection of N.C. 152 and Organ Church Road. Rowan County commissioners are the final hurdle.
Concerns about the store’s opening seemed to span the gamut of the usual — from an increase in traffic to the store’s appearance. But a sizable number of people said they wouldn’t mind the store.
Three years ago, a Dollar General didn’t materialize in the Liberty community, in southeast Rowan, with neighbors raising similar concerns. And it’s not the only one in east Rowan in recent years that has failed.
Those looking for a similar outcome in the new case might look to Commissioner Craig Pierce, who said in 2015 the county’s land use plan is a guide rather than a concrete set of rules when considering a rezoning for a Dollar General.
“It doesn’t mean that just because you meet the criteria you get a green light,” Pierce said in 2015.
That’s relevant in this case and all future cases because, when locals say “not in my backyard” developers fall back on the county’s land use plan. The Dollar General on N.C. 152 should be allowed because it’s at one of the few “community nodes” in rural east Rowan, developers said Monday.
Whether it’s an upcoming commissioners meeting or one long in the future, the simple truth is that many rural Rowan Countians enjoy living a drive from the nearest store, regardless of whether a land use plan or zoning guidelines say a store nearby is OK. And as long as that’s the case, we’re destined to see the same arguments pop up and welcome mats roll up when development is proposed in a rural area.
It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come to terms and get real with the people. Democrats need to stop... read more