Plan for new Dollar General in rural Catoosa County area withdrawn after community outcry

Staff photo / The Wilcox Boulevard Dollar General store is pictured in 2021 in Chattanooga.
Staff photo / The Wilcox Boulevard Dollar General store is pictured in 2021 in Chattanooga.

A Bartow County-based developer has withdrawn a request for a zoning change after multiple neighbors told the Catoosa County Planning Commission they didn't want the commercial development in their rural community.

The outcry of neighbors led the commission to unanimously not recommend the zoning change that would have allowed a Dollar General at the intersection of Three Notch Road and Poplar Springs Road to be built. Even with the recommendation, the Catoosa County Board of Commissioners had the final decision-making power.

Jeff Fava, chair of the Planning Commission, detailed opposition to the store he received at its meeting last month. He said he received a petition signed by about 20 people, seven letters, more than a dozen testifiers and 80 attendees at the meeting.

"Seems like to me you guys would be the guys frequenting this store, and if you're saying you don't want it here, in my opinion, we're here representing what you guys need and want," Fava said.

The zoning change proposal was taken off Tuesday's Catoosa County Board of Commissioners meeting agenda at the request of the developer, Hibbymo, according to county spokesperson John Pless in a text message.

The change would have been needed to allow the store because the area is zoned agricultural.

Kelly Holcomb, a resident of Ringgold near the proposed store, told the board he would oppose any commercial development on that corner because he doesn't want more traffic. He also accused Dollar General stores of adding to crime and further development no one in the area wants.

Bobby Howard, a resident of Cartersville, represented the developer at the Planning Commission meeting. He spoke about the developer's plan to buy two vacant lots totaling 3 acres to build the Dollar General store.

Planned to be 12,000 square feet, the store would have had produce, some fresh meat, groceries and some hardware supplies, he said.

The building's architecture would have been similar to the Dollar General on Lookout Mountain, Howard said. There would be no floodlights glaring off the property, he said, and delivery trucks would come once a week or twice a week if the store was busy.

"They're going to complain about traffic, but the traffic's already there," Carter said, predicting the concerns from neighbors.

The real source of traffic is nearby Heritage Middle and High School, he said, adding if he lived nearby, he would choose to shop when there's not school traffic or avoid the intersection entirely. Dollar General plans their deliveries, he said, so they wouldn't arrive during morning and afternoon school traffic.

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Dollar General stores were common in rural America until they were run out of business by bigger stores, Howard said.

Catoosa County, he said, seems to push all its commercial districts away from residential areas because nobody wants new commercial development near their homes — even though that would save travel time for neighbors.

Also at the commission meeting, Lisa Morris said she was one of the two property owners where the Dollar General was planned. She said she wanted to get rid of the property because she and her husband were disabled and couldn't take care of it anymore.

"It seemed like a good area to put a Dollar General," Morris said. "I know there's a lot of people here against it, but it'll help me out by selling it."

Morris also said the store would help people like her because they wouldn't have to travel so far to shop.

Crymson Holcomb, who lives on Three Notch Road near the proposed store in rural Ringgold, also said at the meeting that she had concerns about traffic and crime associated with a new store. Holcomb and her neighbors want to keep their rural area like it is, even though other parts of the county are growing.

"It might have been proposed to grow up the rural areas, as a whole, of Ringgold and Catoosa County as a community," she said. "But for us that live out there off Three Notch, we're not interested in the growing of that area more than it already is."

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Julie Jones, a resident of Ringgold, said her family's homestead is located behind the Dollar General's proposed location. Jones said she echoed the other neighbors' concerns about traffic, crime and the potential to change the area's character.

Jones said to Morris at the meeting that if she needed the income from selling the property, neighbors would help her by purchasing it from her.

Contact Andrew Wilkins at awilkins@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

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