After nearly two hours of discussion — and juggling the city’s zoning ordinances — Rincon City Council members may have found a way to accommodate a proposed Dollar General store.
Council members voted unanimously to approve an office/commercial zoning for nearly an acre at Highway 21 and 10th Street, with a primary use of selling books and magazines and a secondary use of retail trade and personal services.
The original rezoning request for the tracts was for general commercial, and the property also had an office/commercial zoning. But some council members worried not what the Dollar General would bring but what might come to that spot in the years to follow.
Steve Hufstetler of Teramore Development, which will build the new Dollar General, said his company will lease the building to Dollar General for 15 years. Renewal options on the lease could keep Dollar General on that location for 35 years or more.
Council member Paul Wendelken voiced concern over the possibility of a package store, pool hall or gas station occupying the spot, should Dollar General ever leave.
“It’s not so much you,” he said. “We’re trying to prevent the next one.”
Wendelken said those businesses in office/commercial zoning typically close for the day around 5 or 6 p.m. His fear of having a general commercial zoning applied would be opening the door for other businesses to take that spot if Dollar General ended its stay there.
“Some of the things we are trying to prevent are right smack dab in the middle of this zoning,” he said. “I’m trying to keep the next thing from coming in. I don’t have a problem with Dollar General. It’s not Teramore I’m worried about. I have a problem with all the other things that can come in under limited commercial.
“You’re backed up to three residences. We don’t run into that with our commercial zoning. That’s what’s different here. I think Dollar General is one of the best things to put in there.”
Wendelken pushed to see if the store could be brought in under the office/commercial zoning with a conditional use.
“It would give us a little bit of control there, because that’s still highly residential, especially on that block,” he said. “That keeps a package shop from coming in after you’ve sold it.”
Hufstetler said he was cautious about a zoning that was narrowly defined.
“It’s a substantial investment to do this, and I appreciate the creativity,” he said. “But I’m fearful of the limitations.”
Hufstetler said the lot and building were a $1.2 million investment and he worried about zoning restrictions that limited the land use in the future. City officials explored the possibility of rezoning the parcels as limited commercial.
“I’d agree to limited commercial, as long as city council saw fit to approve it,” Hufstetler said. “I think it’s an excellent definition of what we’re looking for.”
Yet with restaurants as an approved use under the limited commercial zoning, council members balked at using that particular zoning. The light commercial zoning classification is relatively new, and city planner LaMeisha Kelly said the city hasn’t taken advantage of it yet.
“It is in between office/commercial and general commercial,” she said. “It allows for retail, but not for heavy user. It allows for uses more conducive to neighborhoods.”
City attorney Raymond Dickey pointed out that asking for a variance would mean starting the process over. Had council members rejected the rezoning request, it would have meant another six months before the topic could be brought back for their consideration.
Hufstetler said they wanted to move quickly in order to have the building finished by late January or early February of next year.
Mayor Ken Lee issued his worry over garbage pickup and delivery times for trucks at the store, asking if no pickups or deliveries were done between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Hufstetler said delivery trucks would be coming in about once a week after the first week and usually in the morning. Aside from the first two weeks of the store’s opening, a truck to unload the dumpster would come in about once a week, he added.
The new Dollar General will have 28 parking spaces and an entrance and exit on Highway 21. It will have an exit only on to 10th Street. Hufstetler said they will build a shadowbox privacy fence.
“It would separate the residential from the commercial,” he said. “It would help contain any kind of noise. We would also put in as many trees as reasonable.”
The store would employ 10 people and possibly 12, Hufstetler acknowledged.
“It would create a fair amount of sales taxes,” he said.
Hufstetler said he did not know what this planned store meant for the future of the existing Dollar General, adjacent to the Rincon Post Office.
“Dollar General has done a good job of rebranding itself,” he said. “I’ve been building them for 12 years. It doesn’t resemble the old Dollar Generals you’re accustomed to.”