After a three-hour public hearing on the matter Tuesday night, Jackson County Commissioners convened a special meeting and voted 4-1 to allow the construction of a new Dollar General Store in the predominantly residential “North Oaks” subdivision, on site of a former dwelling near Caverns Road.
Commissioner Chuck Lockey cast the lone dissenting vote.
“Neighborhood commercial” uses are allowed in the residential area, but some at the hearing argued that it, as a discount retail operation the chain store does not fall within that category as it is intended in that local land use category.
The county’s advisory planning commission had recommended its approval with seven conditions that the company should be required to meet if it proceeds. The county board, in its motion, made its approval contingent on the business meeting those conditions.
Many people from the neighborhood spoke against the proposed store, but some spoke for it as a new convenient shopping opportunity in the area, one that would create jobs to benefit the local economy.
Some of the objectors expressed fears that its presence would bring along increased crime, such as drug activity by loiters in the vicinity, lead to increased traffic and resulting dangerous conditions, and change the neighborhood in other negative ways.
With the expected opening of a new K-8 school in the vicinity, and the potential re-population of the federal prison, which was essentially idled since Hurricane Michael in late 2018, some of those in opposition to the new store said that was one additional pressure drivers don’t need.
But with the proposed enterprise having met all the requirements set out in county rules, board members determined no legitimate cause to decline its approval.