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Thomaston St. Dollar General sure to draw heated opposition

By Walter Geiger A request to rezone 1.2 acres on Thomaston Street in Barnesville from R-1 (residential) to C-2 (highway commercial) for a Dollar General store goes before the planning commission May 7 and is already drawing stiff opposition. The planning commission will hear the request filed by Donald R. Haywood at 8:30 a.m. at the courthouse. The county commission will take up the matter at its meeting May 15 and a final decision is expected at that time. The property is located on the east side of Thomaston Street at its intersection with Veterans Parkway. It is the site of a ranch-style home that belonged to the late Vivian Haywood who also operated a beauty shop there. She rejected annexation years ago and the parcel is the only one in the area that does not lie within the city limits of Barnesville. Right across the street is the office of State Farm agent Phillip Bell. That property is zoned C-3 under city zoning codes. In his original letter seeking the change, Donald Haywood wrote, ‘I have no particular plan in mind for the property but I do plan to sell it.’ At some point a ‘˜proposed site plan’ was developed which called for a 10,000 square foot metal building. A more recent site plan, dated April 9, includes a 10,640 square foot discount retail store with 35 parking places and is contingent on annexation into the city. It lists the developer as T. Cooper James of Greensboro, N.C. The designer is LeCraw Engineering which has worked with Family Dollar on projects throughout the southeast. The Herald Gazette has confirmed this project is for Dollar General. The Westgate Plaza building that currently houses the local Dollar General store has reportedly been sold and the discount retailer must move its operation. The plan notes three variances developers will ask the city to grant. Two regard landscaping and the third involves reducing required parking spaces from 43 to the planned 35. Access and egress would be on Thomaston Street not on the four-lane. By definition, C-2 districts ‘are intended to establish and preserve business areas that are motor vehicle oriented rather than pedestrian oriented’ under the county zoning code. Approved county C-2 uses include any retail service or business, service station, hotel, office, bank, parking garage, educational or training facility, lodge or club, government building and utility substation, among others. Residents of Thomaston Street and Murphey Avenue and others are circulating a petition opposing the rezoning request. Opponents are expected to turn out in force at the May 7 hearing and again when the commission vote is held. Both the planning commission and the county commission have the option of approving commercial zoning for the property with site-specific restrictions that could limit the approved uses for it.

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