October 18, 2021

Dollar General proposal draws fire at hearing

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.

A Dollar General proposed for Route 281 in Homer will damage the village’s quality of life and doesn’t meet the village’s comprehensive plan, residents told the village planning board at a public hearing Wednesday night.

“I just don’t think it’s going to improve the quality of life of our residents in any way, nor do I think it’s going to improve the quality of Homer as a community in any way,” said Bonnie Smith, one of several people to speak on the proposed 9,100-square-foot Dollar General at 15 S. West St., the current site of Super Scoops ice cream shop.

The planning board decided after the hearing to recommend the village Board of Trustees hire an engineer to review the project plans, to be paid by the developers. The board also postponed action until at least Nov. 9, so members had time to read 85 pages worth of letters on the project and to consult the county Planning Board.

Elizabeth Hubbard asked the planning board to delay the project until the village’s zoning from 2008 is up to date with the village’s 2010 comprehensive plan.

“Since the zoning code does not yet encompass the priority and goals included in the comprehensive plan, then the zoning code should be revised before the planning board makes decisions on new development proposals,” Hubbard said.

She also said the proposal doesn’t encompass residents’ vision.

“The key is to have a master plan to determine what kinds of businesses the village wants and where they should be located from the comprehensive plan,” she said. “A Dollar General is not in line with the vision of what businesses the village wants.”

“The Dollar General proposal does not conform to any architectural quality and design standard in keeping with the historical nature of the village,” she said.

Smith also raised concerns about lights and the noise generated by trucks unloading.

Developer Jason Lang said the lights would turn off an hour after the store is closed and employees have left, leaving only an emergency light. The hours would be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Lang said he is only one of the people developing the site. The developers would lease it to Dollar General, probably with a 10-year term.

Crystal Marsh said she had read that Dollar General’s push other businesses out of town. Other speakers raised concerns about what Dollar General would actually offer to the village, and several said the store didn’t offer healthy items.

“Our customers are at the center of all that we do, and meeting customers’ needs is Dollar General’s top priority when choosing store locations,” said Angela Petkovic, a company spokeswoman, in an Oct. 1 email. “In selecting store sites, we take a number of factors into consideration, carefully evaluating each potential new store location to ensure we can continue to meet our customers’ price, value and selection needs.”

Petkovic said Dollar Generals have played an essential role during the coronavirus pandemic.

“During this time of national crisis, our customers have relied on Dollar General to remain open and provide the essential items they need at affordable prices in a smaller, less crowded and easy, in-and-out environment,” she said.