Lowndes County nixes planned Dollar General –VDT 2023-01-26

Update 2023-05-06: Dollar General developer and property owner sue Lowndes County about rezoning denial –VDT 2023-05-03.

Thank you, Lowndes County Commission, and all the opposition speakers and writers, for this win written up in the local newspaper of record.

This win keeps some trash out of the Withlacoochee River, upstream from Valdosta and Florida, while stopping a foothold for further development too close to the river, avoiding clearcutting, impervious surface, and the flooding that would have caused.

Malia Thomas, Valdosta Daily Times, January 26, 2023, County nixes planned Dollar General,

VALDOSTA — Lowndes County residents felt heard as a contentious zoning request for a rural Dollar General was denied by the Lowndes County Commission.

[Hearing, Location, Withlacoochee River]
Hearing, Location, Withlacoochee River

Teramore Development, the retail real estate company behind the request, petitioned to rezone three acres of the 35-acre property from Estate Agricultural to Crossroads Commercial.

[Future Development Map]
Future Development Map

At the initial Greater Lowndes Planning Commission meeting last month, multiple residents spoke in opposition, which led the GLPC to ultimately recommend denial of the request 7-1.

[I certainly hope not! --Gretchen Quarterman]
I certainly hope not! –Gretchen Quarterman in LAKE blog post Videos: Opposition gets Dollar General on GA 122 & Skipper Bridge voted down @ GLPC 2022-11-28

Residents further voiced opposition to the proposed development on Highway 122 at Skipper Bridge Road through an online petition, garning 180 signatures.

The petition: https://www.change.org/p/stop-rural-development-dollar-general-122-skipper-bridge

John Quarterman, Suwannee [R]iverkeeper of the WWALS Watershed Coalition, had encouraged constituents to contact their county representative to make their disapproval known in prior interviews.

As noted by the VDT in a previous story: Massive citizen opposition to development foothold in agricultural and forestry area @ GLPC 2022-12-08.

And another WWALS blog post: Survey, petition, letters, speak against conmmercial development on GA 122 at Skipper Bridge Road.

The county had received at least three letters of opposition from residents Joyce Jones, Jamie Rowntree and Gwen Rowntree, citing concerns about additional traffic, property values and the nearby proximity of similar stores.

LAKE blog post: Correspondence: Proposed Rezoning on GA 122 at Skipper Bridge Road 2022-12-12.

“This intersection has become very dangerous and has seen many wrecks and several fatalities over the years. The placing of any kind of commercial establishment at this intersection would only increase this congestion. It is also a known fact that establishments of this kind in rural locations also increase the crime rate which is certainly not what we want in our community,” Jamie Rowntree said in his correspondence.

“The noise level, lighting and truck deliveries would also be a detriment. There are already several Dollar General stores within five minutes of this area which are convenient for anyone wanting to shop there. Again, this zoning request would not be a benefit to our community and I express my sincere objection to its approval.”

Representatives from Dollar General noted the C-C zoning was recommended for the area, facade and site enhancements could be added and that a final site layout had not been determined.

Roxanne Newton speaking in the Public Hearing at the County Commission:

[6.a. REZ-2022-20 Teramore Development, Hwy 122 \u0026 Skipper Bridge, E-A to C-C,]
6.a. REZ-2022-20 Teramore Development, Hwy 122 \u0026 Skipper Bridge, E-A to C-C, see LAKE blog post Videos: Dollar General Defeated, VLDA appointment, subdivision infrastructure, VOCA, server blades @ LCC Regular 2023-01-24

Skipper Bridge residents reiterated their concerns at the commission meeting but Roxanne Newton took another approach by addressing the county’s proclaimed support of agriculture and small businesses.

“I went through some of your social media and it just makes me annoyed because you’ll have this ‘Oh, look at our farmers, we really appreciate them.’ You say ‘Show your support for our small businesses.’ … I’m asking you to put your money where your mouth is and vote no. If you’re going to put on social media that you care about farmers and you care about small businesses, then vote no,” she said.

After hearing all sides, commissioners ultimately followed the GLPC’s guidance and denied the request.

As you can see, the proposed site was just uphill from the Withlacoochee River, draining through the highlighted bridge down Poley Branch.

[Map: GA 122 @ Skipper Bridge Road in WLRWT]
Map: GA 122 @ Skipper Bridge Road in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT)

Here’s the letter I sent the County Commission that explains many of the reasons for opposition: Please deny Dollar General rezoning, GA 122 @ Skipper Bridge Road –WWALS to Lowndes County 2023-01-23.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!