The corner of 24th Avenue and 18th Street is the proposed site for the new Dollar General Store. Perched along a main route for travel in the mid-town area, contractors say the site is perfect. However, city council members don't see it that way.
Despite a recommendation from the city's Planning and Rezoning Commission to approve a request to rezone the site from residential to commercial, city council members unanimously voted no!
'I can only speak for myself, but in my opinion it was close to spot rezoning,' says Council President Barbara Henson. 'Usually it's several tracks of land that people are rezoning and that we consider, but when it's just one little area, I've never looked favorably on that.'
The site is nestled in Ward 5 Councilman, Bobby Smith's district. During a phone interview he told Newscenter 11 that he is staunchly against the project because it clearly violates the comprehensive plan that was approved years prior by the city's Planning Commission. Smith stresses that the purpose of the plan is to protect the integrity of historic residential neighborhoods.
However, the contractor for the project disagrees.
'One of the neighbors who has gone in on the rezoning had asked us if we would do all masonry on the front and both sides and we agreed to dress that store up to make it look real nice for the area and also to do very extensive landscaping,' says Mike Rozier with Rozier Construction out of Carrollton, Mississippi.
Rozier is asking the council to reconsider the rezoning request. Touting the success of the store chain, he insists that approving the request could have long lasting benefits.
'Every store in the city of Meridian exceeds their national average. So, based on that, we're looking in the neighborhood of $18,000 or more in sales tax revenue. Property tax, which also includes the school tax, we're looking at $16,000 or $17,000 a year in the property tax,' says Rozier.
If the city council does reconsider the proposal, and it is ultimately approved, Rozier says construction could start at this site within 30 days of that. Within 60 days after construction starts, he says the grand-opening would follow.
Although the contractor has asked the city council to reconsider the request, he also has the option of requesting a formal review of the matter in Chancery Court.