December 2, 2021

Homer says village can’t buck Dollar General

Kevin Conlon/city editor

Customers line up Monday, September 23 in the afternoon at Super Scoops on Route 281 in Homer. The village has received a proposal for a company to build a Dollar General store on the site.

If Dollar General follows all laws and code requirements, there is nothing the Homer Village Planning Board can do to stop the company from building on Route 281, even if many people oppose the idea.

“There’s processes and laws that we have to go through,” planning Board President Mahlon Irish Jr. said Monday. “We can’t just arbitrarily stop it.”

Dollar General proposes a 9,100 square-foot store at 15 S. West St., the current Super Scoops site, according to documents provided to the village planning board.

However, planning board member Mike Pollack said the company faces one big hurdle: getting a variance for its parking lot.

“We don’t believe they meet code for required parking,” Pollack said.

Pollack said the company is seeking a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals to allow for a smaller parking lot than is required for the building’s size.

Code enforcement officer Kevin McMahon couldn’t be reached for comment on how many spaces are required or how they could address it.

Other concerns come to mind for Jim Cunningham of Cortland, who has been frequenting the ice cream shop there for nearly four decades — when nearby Super Cream occupied the space — and particularly likes the strawberry shortcake.

“Homer would do better as the county’s premier ice cream destination than sitting yet another dollar store, in my opinion, and should wait and see how the potential traffic nightmare at the corner of (routes) 281 and 90 pans out with the big new Byrne Dairy store opposite the big existing Speedway facilities before adding another large commercial business, in any case,” Cunningham said in an email. “Frankly, when I look at the lovely shops along Homer’s Main Street and the beautiful homes and green spaces I don’t think ‘dollar store,’ and I think the greater Cortland area already has too much of that.”

Pollack said the planning board must ensure the company meets requirements like setbacks, barriers and zoning, which the company has.

Concerns were also raised about increased traffic in the area and safety related to that. Because the building would be along Route 281, the state Department of Transportation would look at how traffic would be affected and make determinations for things like curb cuts based on that. Pollack said he’s unsure of whether the DOT would have the authority to outright halt the project, though.

“This is a private exchange of property,” he said. “There’s nothing in our democracy that keeps people from selling land.”

However, Pollack said there is also nothing in the village’s codes that requires the outside of the building to look aesthetically pleasing.

“We can’t deny anything because of aesthetics,” he said.