Neighbors didn't want a big company opening shop in their rural community, so the Catoosa County Commission rejected a rezoning request from Dollar General last week.
Bobby Howard, the company's Georgia contractor, asked elected officials to change the zone of about 2 acres in the southwest portion of the county. The property is zoned C-2, which allows the company to build on up to 5,000 square feet. But Dollar General officials want a 9,100-square-foot store, requiring a C-1 zone.
A group of residents don't want the store, located at the corner of Burning Bush and Three Notch roads. It would sit across from two traditional country stores: The Front Porch Fresh Market and Napier Feed Store.
"We should embrace the idea of preserving what makes this part of the county a little bit unique," said Jim Webb, who argued the commission should keep franchises on busy streets.
On Aug. 22, the county's planning commission rejected the request. The county commissioners did the same last Tuesday, voting 4-0 against the move. Commissioner Bobby Winters abstained from the vote. At the end of the meeting, he ripped the other elected officials for rejecting Dollar General's request.
"That store would help the citizens about their property tax," he said. "That's the reason we need to support our businesses. I don't care what planning and zoning says. The buck stops right here."
Resident Jim Skeen told the commissioners he opposed the zoning change because Dollar General might leave one day. And when it does, the land would still be C-1. And while Howard said the store wouldn't attract customers from outside the area, Skeen believes another big business could come in. And that one might bring traffic. And then what? The community would change forever, he said.
The owners of the nearby country stores differ on the issue.
Said Joe Napier, of Napier Feed Store: "Dollar General's got 12 or 15,000 stores. I think that's enough."
Said Jimmy Dean, of The Front Porch Fresh Market: "I think it would be a benefit to my business. I think it would be a benefit to my community. And I think the people that oppose it will be the first ones in there in a year."
Dean said he researched the company, wanting to make sure a Chinese businessman didn't own it. He was pleased to see it was an American company. And he believes Dollar General is the future in this part of town.
Email Tyler Jett at firstname.lastname@example.org