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Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Council says no to new store

Fort Recovery

By William Kincaid
FORT RECOVERY - Village council members likely have stopped a Dollar General store from coming to the village.
Council members Monday night unanimously rejected a zoning change that would have allowed the store to be built in the industrial park off state Route 49. The vote was taken after council asked the nearly 20 local residents at the meeting if they were in support of the business coming to town; no one raised a hand.
Attendees, many business and community leaders, addressed fears of a national chain taking money out of the village and not contributing to the community. Some also said a retail store in the industrial park could dissolve the consolidated downtown business district.
The only one in support of the business was Bob Gage, a representative of GBT Realty Corporation of Brentwood, Tenn., which wants to construct the 9,100-square-foot store and lease it to Dollar General. The parcel of land in the park is owned by Dan and Grace Jutte.
GBT was asking council to rezone the parcel from industrial to commercial. The village's planning commission previously recommended approving the change.
After Monday's vote, Gage said GBT likely will not purchase the parcel. Gage also said extensive research revealed that no other location likely would allow for the construction of a Dollar General in Fort Recovery.
"Well, we'll take another look, but it doesn't look promising," he said this morning.
Gage said Dollar General would have brought 10 to 15 jobs to the village, half of those full-time, as well as a tax base and $850,00 to $900,000 in possible revenue to local contractors.
"I don't think competition is a bad thing," he said, adding current businesses can charge whatever they like.
He also disputed the claim that Dollar General doesn't support local causes, pointing out the national chain donated $3,000 to Fort Recovery High School last year.
One of those against the store coming to town was Jerry Kaup, owner of Kaup Pharmacy and president of the Fort Recovery Merchants Association.
He said between 68 and 73 cents of every dollar spent at locally-owned businesses stays in the community, while only 43 cents of every dollar spent at national chain retailers stays in the local economy. He also feels a Dollar General would facilitate zero economic growth and not bring any new shoppers to Fort Recovery.
In a letter addressed to council, Matt Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Associates wrote that big box stores have killed the downtown business climate in Celina over the last couple decades.
"Big Box development does not bring profits to your local community," he wrote. "Yes, they do pay some income tax, and in your particular case, a very small amount of payroll tax with the minimal amount of jobs created. However, most of the profits are rolled out of the area to their designated corporate offices."
The direction of the community and its downtown district is at stake with council members' decision, Muhlenkamp wrote.
"Would a CVS or Walgreens be better for Fort Recovery than a Kaup Pharmacy?" he asked. "Would a Menards be better than a Wangler Hardware and Fort Recovery Lumber?"
Ted Romer, vice president of the Fort Recovery Chamber of Commerce, said the locally-owned businesses are owned by community members who have invested labor, manpower, time and energy to Fort Recovery. They are the backbone of the community, he said.
Village administrator Randy Diller expressed his personal opinion after those in attendance spoke.
He admitted many of those at the meeting were his friends and said he doesn't want to see downtown move to the edge of town. Village officials over the years have worked to keep the downtown business center the focal point of the village, he said.
Mayor Roger Broerman said this is the toughest decision council members have had to make in a long time, pointing out it's an issue of zoning, not necessarily an issue of allowing Dollar General to come to the village.
Councilman Allen Post said he believes competition is a good thing but questioned turning an industrial lot into a commercial lot.
Councilmen Dave Kaup and Dave Garman agreed that the lot should be preserved for industrial purposes.
Eventually, council members Post, Kaup, Garman, Dave Bretz, Scott Pearson and Rod Thobe unanimously voted to go against the planning commission's recommendation and deny the zoning request.
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