Dollar General Controversy Update

Dollar General will not build a new store adjacent to the Poplar Springs Historic District. This decision comes after months of debate.

Dollar General changed its mind on the project, because it did not want to build in an area where the store was not wanted.

"I don't feel good about that," said Dr. George Thomas, Meridian City Council president. "Any time you tell a business that they can't build in the city and it's zoned properly for them to build, we lose jobs; we lose possible sales tax income. The property value probably would've gone up on that vacant lot. So, we lose possibly property tax, definitely sales tax and possibly jobs, and we need all three of those."

"I think it's a smart idea," said James Harwell, who has owned a home in the Poplar Springs District for nine years.

Harwell and others opposed to the store say they are happy about the decision.

"I don't think it's quite the right model that we're looking for," said Harwell. "I'd like to see, I think, as well as everyone else, something developed down there but not quite this project."

There is already a convenience store/gas station and pharmacy directly across the street from the site that was targeted for the Dollar General. There are other businesses within two blocks of the location.

"I see it as a loss for the city, but the fact that the neighborhood is getting organized and the neighbors are coming together, that's a positive," Thomas said.

Residents like Harwell say they just want to keep this historic district historic. In fact, in 2009 they say the Poplar Springs District was voted as one of the top ten places within the U.S. to buy an older home for an affordable price. That ranking was awarded by thisoldhouse.com.

Harwell says the historic character of the area is what convinced him to move back from Atlanta and buy there.

"Our contention is that there are thousands of people around the country who would do the same thing, because they want to live in a 100-year-old house in the south," Harwell said.

At this time Thomas says he has not heard of any plans for another store to locate at the former proposed Dollar General site.

In recent months, opponents of the Dollar General project have used a number of strategies to stop the construction. Aside from signs posted in yards, they also started an online petition. Another site just a few blocks away was blocked by the city.

Ward 5 city councilman Bobby Smith has proposed changing the district to a locally controlled one. This would require the city council to appoint officials to supervise any exterior property changes within that area.


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