Dollar General is building a new store in Yatesville, and the Yatesville City Council is concerned. The issue came up at their meeting on Dec. 10.
While Mayor Cecil Moncrief said new businesses are welcome in Yatesville, Council members Phyl Gatlin and Ronnie Riggins expressed concern about Dollar General not coming before the council or giving them any notice, and about the “light pollution” a neon sign high above the ground will cause.
“They have knocked down a house and are clearing land to put a Dollar General store on Highway 74,” said Gatlin. “First, of all, I’m against all light pollution. Secondly, I think we need to adopt an ordinance for our city that we can’t have a giant sign. It has got to be on the ground and lit by floodlights, not a bright neon-lit sign, so that people living around it won’t have it shining in their windows. I think it will be better for our community.
“And at another time, I think we need to look at an ordinance that prohibits businesses from being in a residential area, or so close to homes,” she added. “I wish we had been proactive about that, but whoever thought we’d have a chain (store) come into Yatesville?”
Riggins added his concern about the city council not having any say in the matter.
“I know we don’t have any really zoning laws as such,” said Riggins, “but it looks to me like they should have at least come to the council.”
But Mayor Moncrief said the problem is that the city does not have any zoning ordinances. He also reminded them this is not the first business to build without coming to the council.
“By the law they do not have to, because we don’t have any zoning,” the mayor said. “Now let’s back up. Ronnie Williams built a building. He never came before the council. The Junction came in and built and never came before the council. I know what you’re saying, and I agree.”
He suggested the council meet with Upson County Planning and Zoning Director Doug Currier to discuss developing some ordinances.
“I’ll give my hat off to Doug, because he talked to me about it, and he kept me up to snuff,” Moncrief said. “He said they came into the office and talked to him. Johnny Beverly with the county emailed me Wednesday or Thursday and said they came in to get a demolition permit.
“Ed Trice (county attorney) has looked at this, and by the statutes of the law, they don’t have to come before us. But here’s what I am proposing: That in January or February, we have Doug Currier come and sit down with us. I’m not against progress or business, but we do need some kind of zoning, because it could come back and bite us one day.”
Moncrief added that any new zoning ordinances they develop will be too late to stop Dollar General, but that ordinances are needed.
“We have no zoning in the city limits of Yatesville,” he said. “We need to start now. If somebody came along and bought the building down there and wanted to put a strip club in, what have we got to stop it? Nothing. So we need to be proactive.
“You’re not going to stop this one, it is here. You can’t stop the sign, because we have nothing in the ordinances,” said Moncrief. “But I’ve been looking at Dollar Generals when I go around and the signs are not extremely high. They might be 12 feet high. I’ve seen the plans and it is going to be a 9,100-square-foot building, 130 feet long by 70 feet wide. The entrance is going to be on the far side and the parking lot will be on the front. The truck loading/unloading will be on the east side. From the right-of-way of the highway, there is going to be a green space, then the parking lot, then the building. I’m pretty sure that sign will be in the green space.
“I look at a lot of communities and they’re getting them. I’ll be honest with you,” the mayor told the council, “I’m more scared of Wal-Mart than I am of Dollar General. Wal-Mart is not coming, but I don’t think Dollar General is in the business to go in and ruin a community and put folks out of business.
“ I’m sure there will be a ribbon-cutting and I’m sure the city council will be asked to attend, and I will expect you to put aside your feelings and go, because it is a business for this community. We’ll have to just work from this point forward; we can’t go backtracking.”
Gatlin asked if the city could appeal to Dollar General about the height of the sign. Moncrief stated that she would have to do it as a private citizen, unless the city council approved a motion for her to represent the city.
Council member Riggins made a motion to allow Gatlin to talk to Dollar General for the city. Council member Wanda Dozier seconded the motion and it was approved, 6-0.