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Rezoning for Dollar General rejected

ESCANABA — After hearing significant opposition from local residents, the Delta County Planning Commission voted against recommending a parcel in Perkins be rezoned from Residential to Commercial 1. Dollar General is looking to build a store on the property.

Roughly 50 people were in attendance at Monday’s planning commission meeting. Several posts notifying people of the meeting were made by the Facebook page “Save Our Rural Independent Stores” (SORIS), which has been campaigning against the spread of “small box” discount stores in the Upper Peninsula since April.

SORIS administrator Mary Martin was one of many people living in the area who voiced concerns related to the prospect of a Dollar General store in Perkins during Monday’s meeting.

“I have a stack of signatures here that have been collected at local stores over the past couple of months. We have hundreds of signatures here asking for the Delta County leaders to consider an ordinance against small box discount stores,” she said.

Joe Skellenger, co-owner of Joe’s One Stop in Rock and Martin’s nephew, spoke about the role his store and others like it play in small towns — and how allowing a Dollar General to be built in Perkins could affect this.

“If we allow this to happen, the best-case scenario is you’re going to be left with a Dollar General. And the worst-case scenario is you’re going to be left with empty storefronts, no gas pumps, no more quick runs for simple items, less tax base, fewer jobs,” he said.

Gregory Stevenson, supervisor of Baldwin Township, said he and other township representatives were against the project.

“I just want to let you know, I have unanimous support of the township board in asking you not to recommend changes to zoning … there is not a compelling reason to change it,” he said.

Jeremy Hauswirth — the owner of the Perkins parcel where the proposed Dollar General store would be built — also addressed the commission. Hauswirth said he felt a Dollar General store in Perkins could co-exist with established businesses.

“This doesn’t need to be a store that directly competes with these local stores. They have some overlap — they have a lot that doesn’t,” he said.

Jacob Stauffer spoke on behalf of developer The Overland Group of Springfield, Miss.

“Our request is to rezone this parcel … the intent is to put in a Dollar General store, but we’re here for zoning,” he said.

After a public hearing on the rezoning request was completed, commission members spoke about the request. Among other topics, the role that local residents’ feelings should play in decisions made by the commission was discussed.

“The loudest voice right now here is the one that’s saying ‘this is a community,’ to me,” David Moyle said.

However, Renee Barron felt differently on the issue.

“We have to listen to concerns, but our role is to provide an advisory decision on what our code says,” she said.

Ultimately, Barron and John Denholm voted in favor of a motion to recommend to the Delta County Board of Commissioners that the parcel be rezoned. The commission’s other members voted against the motion.

In other business, the commission:

— agreed to continue a discussion on efforts to complete a master plan for Delta County later in the week. A special meeting of the commission will take place Wednesday to review OHM Advisors’ goals, objectives and actions for the plan and provide feedback on these elements. The elements will be used to develop a rough draft of the plan, which will be discussed at another special planning commission meeting on Monday, July 13.

— approved a resolution honoring former board member Julian Vandecaveye, who died in May.

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