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Dollar General

An application for Lansing's second Dollar General store on a 5.73 acre North Lansing lot will be considered at next Monday's Lansing Planning Board meeting.  The proposed site is on the west side of Auburn Road, between Decamp and Sharpsteen Roads, across the street from the North Lansing Fire Station.  While the Planning Board will begin considering the project next Monday, local residents and business owners are already protesting the store location.

"We bought in North Lansing because it's this rural agricultural area without a lot of development and we thought it would be safe from further development like that," says Sharpsteen Road resident Benjamin Finio. So we were caught off guard when we saw they were going to build another dollar general on that corner.  Why would they put another Dollar General there there's one only five miles away?"

The applicant, Franklin Land Associates, is requesting site plan approval for a 9,100 square foot retail store with approximately 7,220 feet of sales area.  It proposes 37 parking spaces, including two accessible spaces.  The application says there will be no truck parking, but there will be space for trucks to unload at the back of the store.

A letter from three Lansing families who are part of the group that owns Lansing Market was read aloud into the record at last week's Town Board meeting.  It said a second Dollar General store would conflict with the Town's goals.

"Allowing Dollar General to add a second location in our town, only 6 miles from its current location, will not serve our community goals of controlled development and sustainable community minded services. The proposed location is not within a business district, it is an area intended for agricultural use. Although general retail is a permitted use, it is not in the best interest of the community to perpetuate sprawl of such formula driven retailers beyond distinctly defined business areas," the letter says.

The Sciarabba, Ruoff, and Eisenhut families' letter argued that a second Dollar General would be bad for local residents and businesses.  The letter stressed that Lansing Market employs 25 people, five of them full time, versus Dollar General, which typically has two employees in the store at a time, although the site plan application states an anticipated 10 to 15 employees.   The letter also stresses that Lansing Market is owned by people who live in Lansing, as opposed to Dollar General, a Tennessee company, and that Lansing Market supports local farmers by selling their products in the market, while Dollar General does not.

Lansing Market vs Dollar General

Finio reached out to the Lansing Town Board, and says Councilman Joseph Wetmore replied, explaining that the store is an 'allowed use' in Lansing's Rural Agricultural (RA) zone.  The Planning Board is currently considering a major rezoning proposal, part of which is likely to be a new Ag zone that would cover much of the northern portion of the Town.  Even if it ends up excluding retail businesses, it is not nearly ready enough to be passed into law before this project can be approved.

As "dollar stores" expand across the country, some communities have passed laws restricting expanding within their borders.  According to a CNN report, the two largest "dollar store" chains -- Dollar General and Dollar tree -- account for 30,000 retail stores, more than 10,000 more than were open a decade ago.  The article points out that Walmart has 4,700 stores in the United States.

"We urge town and planning board members to move slowly and carefully through this process and insure that the long term interests of our community are properly served. Municipalities across the United States have taken action to restrict the proliferation of formula businesses due to the detrimental impact they have on the community," the Sciarabba/Ruoff/Eisenhut letter said.  It went on to say, "It is ironic that a second Dollar General is being proposed in an agricultural district of our town, one with significant value to our community for the dairy products it produces. Yet the dairy and egg products that will be sold within this Dollar General are exclusively from the Southeast and similarly distant areas of the United States-- NOT from our town, NOT our neighboring counties, NOT from Upstate NY."

Finio has also reached out to his neighbors and is contemplating a petition opposing the store.

"We wouldn't want that there. We already have one, five miles away. It's going to be ugly," Finio argues. "And the traffic at that intersection is bad. That intersection's already so dangerous. It's not so much the curve, but the hill. If you were pulling out onto 34 from Decamp or Locke road on the corner by Linda's Diner, visibility down the hill towards Baker's acres isn't that good. You can't really see over the Hill."

The Planning Board meeting is set for Monday (September 28th), held over the Internet.  It will be live streamed on the Town's YouTube Channel, and those who wish to speak during the Privilege of the Floor portion of the meeting will be able to log into the meeting via Zoom.  The Planning Board also receives comments from the public via email to the Planning Office, and may request they be read aloud during the meeting.  Video of the meeting also remains on the Town's YouTube page indefinitely after the live meeting.

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