EAST LIVERPOOL - A new Dollar General store is being proposed for property in the East End once used as soccer fields, provided City Council agrees with a recommendation made Tuesday by the city Planning Commission.
The commission voted unanimously to recommend council approve a zoning classification change that would rezone the area in question from M-1, restricted industrial, to B-4, highway business.
The request was made by GBT Realty on behalf of property owners William L. Miller and Peter D. Visnic to allow for construction of a 9,100-square-foot retail store on Pennsylvania Avenue near Lee Street.
Until last night's meeting, the type of store had not been made public, but Bob Gage, vice president of net lease development for GBT, told the commission plans call for a Dollar General that will replace the one that already exists just down the street.
Gage said he had been advised not to divulge the name of the store but said everyone seemed to know, anyway.
He said Dollar General currently has 10,000 stores in operation across the nation and the company has a new business model which will be incorporated into the store proposed for East End.
They are brighter, with wider aisles and with a strong emphasis on cleanliness, according to Gage, who said, "The main goal for us is to be good neighbors. We want to get off on the right foot."
To that end, Gage explained that the parking lot will be built to accommodate delivery trucks, generally on Monday, that can get in and out without running off the property or onto the street and said the company has "pretty strict regulations" on lighting, with all lights shielded to avoid light pollution for the neighbors.
"Our goal is to have it in this location for 30 years," Gage said of the new store.
He told the commission that, while city ordinance requires 60 parking spaces, his company is proposing 45 which is all the space will allow but which will be adequate according to studies showing that the store will draw about 10 cars per hour throughout the day.
Commissioner Tom Babb asked whether the firm will use local companies to build the new store, with Gage saying the company has a general contractor that erects the building with site work generally awarded to local sub-contractors.
He said once financing is mobilized, it should take about two and one-half months to construct the store and have it opened.
Although Gage said the Walnut Street Dollar General in the downtown area will remain open, the existing Pennsylvania Avenue store will close once the new one is in place.
He said the usual reasons one store closes and another opens nearby is because the lease on the original building is up and there is an opportunity for the company to put a new model store in place, because the landlord is raising the rent or because someone else wants the store space and is willing to pay higher rent.
The new store will be built on just 1.4 acres of the nearly nine acre site, and one provision Dollar General required as part of its proposal is that the owners cannot sell other parcels to competing stores, such as Dollar Tree, Dollar Zone, Family Dollar or similar concerns.
"All these stores are in direct competition (with Dollar General)," commission President Sam Scafide pointed out.
"Any other retailer not in direct competition would be allowed," Gage emphasized.
Initially, Babb made the motion to grant the zoning change with the modification that local contractors be given the option of bidding on the building project.
However, Scafide pointed out, "Things are not done that way any more. I don't think we have that obligation. We either should approve it or not approve it."
With no second to Babb's motion, commission member Tim Brookes moved to recommend the zoning reclassification as proposed, which was passed.
No one spoke in opposition to the proposal during the meeting, and a public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 15 on the issue, which will be followed by the regular City Council meeting at which it is expected members will consider the recommendation.