GAINES TWP. – Many residents of the Township of Gaines are not happy with a proposed new Dollar General for the corner of Morrish and Grand Blanc roads, and they made their feelings known at a special meeting of the Zoning Appeal Board of the canton on Monday, November 22. .
“I am absolutely against it,” said Sandra Cawood. ” It’s not necessary ; Isaac is right there. If you want to go (to Dollar General) you can drive three miles down the road (to Linden and Grand Blanc roads). I don’t think it will serve the community well.
Representatives from Swartz Creek BTS Retail, the company that would own the building and lease it to Dollar General, and AR Engineering appeared before the appeal board to seek a waiver of the zoning order requirement. concerning parking spaces.
The store would be built on 1.65 acres at the southwest corner of Morrish and Grand Blanc Roads.
Jason Raleigh, of Kalamazoo-based AR Engineering, said the requirement for one parking space per 100 square feet of retail space is “excessive.”
BTS is expected to install 85 parking spaces for the building, which would measure 10,640 square feet, including storage and offices. The promoters proposed 36 spaces.
Mark Zawatski of BTS said the proposed tally is based on “data from 16,000 stores across the country.”
“Dollar General is a convenience retailer,” he said, adding that on average there are only four to five customers in the store at any given time, and most only stay 15 to 20. minutes.
He pointed out that Dollar General in Mundy Township, just three miles away, has 30 spaces, as do Lennon and Durand stores, both located about nine miles from the proposed store. The Byron store, located about 12 miles away, has 26.
“We don’t want a huge vacant lot,” he said.
The large parking lot would create unnecessary additional runoff and reduce opportunities for on-site landscaping, he said.
ZBA President Chad Morey expressed concern about providing sufficient space for delivery drivers to maneuver large semi-trailer trucks around the scene without blocking traffic on Grand Blanc or Morrish roads.
Board member Donald Sinkler pointed out that after Dollar General’s lease ends in 15 to 35 years, another company may occupy that space and need the additional parking.
When all was said and done, the board determined that Dollar General spokespersons had failed to demonstrate the “hardships” the township ordinance requires to grant the waiver.
Council voted 4 to 1 to dismiss the plaintiff’s appeal, with council member Bill Harris casting the dissenting vote.
Harris said he thought 36 spaces was a good number for the proposed use, and he is concerned about the environmental impact of the additional runoff.
Harris also noted that “there are additional hurdles” developers must overcome at the Planning Commission and Board of Directors levels.
The appeal board’s decision drew applause from the crowd of 30 to 40 residents, many of whom were found to support the owners of Isaac’s Grocery.
Citing a recent article published by Consumer Reports magazine, resident Robert Henderson said dollar stores threatened small local stores that survived the “Walmart invasion” and officials in many areas fear it could hurt to the local economy.
Resident Chad Peck agreed, asking where the money Dollar General earns goes and noting that local business income remains largely in the immediate economy.