Hearing set on Dollar General; Supervisors will take comments on Dec. 12

Published 1:48 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2016

County supervisors in Buckingham will receive public comment on Dec. 12 at 7:15 p.m. on a proposal to build a Dollar General Store at U.S. 15 and Penlan Road near Gold Hill. In late October, the county’s planning commission denied the request — a zoning map amendment — citing concerns with the location of the proposed business.

During supervisors’ Nov. 15 meeting, when the December hearing was set, two people spoke against the project while one spoke in favor during the board’s public comment session.

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During the planning commission’s October meeting, three people spoke in opposition to the request during a public hearing on the matter, noting safety and traffic concerns.

The commission’s denial vote is a recommendation to the county’s board of supervisors, which could reverse or uphold the recommendation.

“I am absolutely against it. And I want it on record that I’m against it,” said Franklin Wood, who lives near the property in question.

John “Pat” McWilliams, who also lives near the proposed store, supported the measure to allow construction of the store.

“I think there’s other reasons that you should go for and support (it),” he said, comparing it to former corner and neighborhood stores. McWilliams said the store would be good for the community and the county, the tax base and employment opportunities.

“It saves a 20-mile round trip to go to the store,” he said, adding that approving the map amendment would make a statement that the county is “open for business development.”

Opponent Valerie VanWitzenberg, who lives on U.S. 15 across from the proposed site, said, “I will have the privilege, if they put it there, of seeing the front of the store every time I open my door.”

She said motorists approaching stopped vehicles seeking to turn left onto Penlan Road while traveling north on U.S. 15 are often caught off guard and destroy her mailbox, going around the stopped vehicle.

“People don’t drive 55 mph when they go by my house. They go 60 mph or more. And that’s where we have problems with people being rear ended or sightseeing through the right-of-way in front of my residence,” VanWitzenberg said.

“It is the only one that we’ve found that we seem to be able to move forward with,” said Lance Koth, of Koth Consulting, who acted as the applicant during the meeting. “The initial search for these properties, this was the best one that was identified in the area. I’m not aware of any others that would be better than this one. This one functions well and meets our criteria.”

During the planning commission meeting, District Seven Supervisor and Board of Supervisors’ representative Danny R. Allen said he felt like the location needed to be reconsidered by Par 5 Development Group LLC, of Aberdeen, N.C.

“I think if they saw the plan, I think that would help,” Koth said, responding to concerns from neighboring residents. “There are landscape buffers on both sides.”

Koth said he was willing to look at alternative buffers between the closest home and the proposed store.

The new store in Arvonia could employ as many as 13 people on a part-time basis or possibly eight on a full-time basis.

Par 5 Development Group is proposing to operate an approximately 9,100-square-foot store on the southwest corner of Penlan Road (Route 671) and North James Madison Highway (U.S. 15). The entrance and exit to the proposed store would be on Penlan Road.

“I think we need their business, personally,” said District Three representative Pat Bowe. “I don’t want to run them out the county.”

According to a report from Koth Consulting, the business could bring in up to $3,982.50 in annual revenue for the county in the form of personal property, real estate and merchant’s capital taxes.

According to county documents, France W. Ellis owns the property. If approved by supervisors, the zone would be changed from agriculture to business.

Commissioners considered 16 conditions on the request, addressing deliveries, landscaping and traffic management issues.