Mixed feelings on store permit
Published 4:11 pm Thursday, March 2, 2017
Supervisors in Prince Edward County are continuing to weigh the pros and cons of a special use permit that would allow a Dollar General store to be built at the corner of Route 460 and Rice’s Depot Road before taking a position on the issue.
The board will discuss the permit during its March 14 meeting, which includes a public hearing on the requested permit.
Lockett District Supervisor and Board Chairman R.M. “Bobby” Jones, who also represents the board on the planning commission, voted during planners’ Feb. 21 meeting in favor of a failed motion to recommend approval of the permit with conditions. He represents the Rice area.
Jones said if the conditions remained as part of the approval of the special use permit, he would vote in favor of the permit unless something majorly different arose during the planned public hearing.
Conditions include a sign indicating no right-hand turns for 18-wheeler trucks, buffering of neighboring residential areas with Leyland Cyprus trees and a six-foot privacy fence, the addition of a brick front and adding an extended right-turn lane into the store’s parking lot.
District 101 Supervisor Howard F. Simpson said the store would be an asset to the community.
“I’m all for progress. I don’t think the Dollar General store, where it’s (going to be) located, is going to be a problem,” Simpson said.
Following their public hearing, planners voted 6-2 to defeat a motion which would have recommended approval of a special use permit for the store to supervisors.
Seven of the eight members of the community who spoke during the commission’s public comment period opposed the measure, largely due to traffic concerns.
When asked about his feeling on the permit, Farmville District 701 Supervisor Jim Wilck cited Tharpe Trucking, located at 401 Pisgah Church Road, which he said had caused an uproar at the time of its rezoning.
“Out of curiosity, I like to check as much as I can, I called Tim Tharpe (the owner of Tharpe Trucking),” Wilck said. “I asked, ‘Since you’ve gotten it in and so forth, are you still getting complaints? (Are) people calling and saying, ‘Hey, your trucks are running down our street or something like that.’” Wilck said. “He said, ‘No, Jim, I’m really not.’ So, I find that interesting. In other words, a lot of hoorah and uproar and everything to start with, but afterwards, you know, it evidently wasn’t the problem they thought it was going to be.”
Wilck said he’d listen to what was said during the hearing and while he hasn’t made up his mind, he was leaning toward voting in support of the Par 3 Development Group’s request to build the store.
“The other thing that I have to take into mind is that all that property along there is zoned commercial, and something is going in there,” Wilck said. “You know, if it’s not the Dollar General, it’s going to be something else.”
“If we keep battling over putting things in Rice and what not, I think we may reach a point where people don’t want to come there anymore because it’s too much of a battle.”
Wilck said he’s weighing a petition signed by almost 300 supporters in favor of granting the permit alongside the voices of the residents in the area opposed to building the store.
Farmville District 801 Supervisor and Board Vice Chairman Pattie Cooper-Jones said she didn’t see any reason to further plans for the Dollar General given the consensus of citizens and the failed motion from planners regarding the special use permit.
Prospect District Supervisor Calvin Gray said he’d had the opportunity to speak to a couple of residents and has received mixed opinions. He said he also looked at the potential concern of the Rice Volunteer Fire Department regarding traffic flow.
“There are still some things I’m looking into and exploring before I can make a sound decision,” Gray said.
Leigh District Supervisor Jerry Townsend, Buffalo District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons and Hampden District Supervisor Odessa Pride said they needed to perform more research on the permit and survey the location before making a decision on the request.