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Masaryktown says no to Dollar General

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Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 04:48 PM
MASARYKTOWN -

Dollar General will have to find someplace else to open in Hernando County besides Masaryktown.

Several residents of this rural hamlet appealed to planning and zoning commissioners Monday to reject an application from the retailer on the grounds it would disrupt the neighborhood, cause congestion and increase the crime rate.

Planning commissioners sided with residents and voted 3-2 to reject a rezoning request, even though their own staffers had recommended approval.

"The C-1 (commercial zoning) creates too much intensity and it encroaches on the true neighborhood characteristics," said Planning Commissioner Lisa Hammond, who made the motion to deny Dollar General's application.

Planning Commissioner Dennis Riley said if this had been more of a convenience store, such as a 7-Eleven, he could support it because those stores generally have a quick flow of customers.

"It far exceeds what I think a neighborhood would need," Riley said.

Commissioners Ronald Caldi and Robert Widmar voted to approve the rezoning.

Dollar General needed a rezoning change from residential to commercial to open a 9,000-square-foot store at the northwest corner of Broad Street and Wilson Boulevard, site of the Masaryktown Community Center

"I know this doesn't mean that much to you but we all live in this area," said resident Jack Bartz.

Bartz said his house would be in the direct line of vision of the store and he would be forced to look at the back of a Dollar General.

"The value of my house has already taken a hit with the way the economy is now and (with a store) you might as well just give it away – me and everybody else in that area," Bartz said.

Resident Rebecca Evans said she and her husband chose to move to Masaryktown because of its historical background and "sleepy quaintness."

Evans said the Dollar General would attract too many vehicles near U.S. 41 and Wilson Boulevard, which she called a high congested area.

"I'm concerned that we're setting ourselves up for a severe fatality (if) this store is built," Evans said.

Then there are the semis that will be dropping off supplies to the store, she said.

"We have children playing, we have people walking their dogs, we have elderly, we have people on golf carts riding around the area," Evans said.

Evans said Tropical Storm Debby recently created pockets of flooding in Masaryktown and devastated some homes. Paving over the grass and creating a large cement parking space would increase the risk of more flooding during major rain events, she said.

Evans also said property values would plummet with a Dollar General so near her home.

"I paid $400,000 for my home," she said. "It's not worth half that. I don't need a Dollar General or whatever it is at the corner making it even less."

Resident Roma Stone, a resident of Masaryktown since 1972, said a Dollar General would "bring some added crime to the neighborhood."

"It compromises the integrity of our residential area," Stone said.

The planning and zoning recommendation now goes before county commissioners, who are the final authority on rezoning cases.

Also Monday:

Planning commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Quarry Preserve's requested rezoning of 4,280 acres north of U.S. 98 and Lake Lindsey Road from agricultural and mining to a planned development project.

The ultimate goal is to develop that property into a residential community, town center, golf course, resort and other amenities.


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