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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
January 10, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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January 10, 2018

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January 10, 2018 Page 7A Re] orter e e F By Will Davis Monroe County cleared the way for Dollar General to build a fourth store in Monroe County in the Rum Creek area of Hwy. 87 despite warnings from residents that it will destroy the rural charac- ter of the area. Monroe County com- missioners voted 4-1 to re-zone a 3.55-acre tract at the corner of Hwys. 87 and 18 from agricultural to commercial. Property owner Jonathan Carver had requested the change so he could sell the cor- ner part of his 24-acre property to Teramore Development for the Dollar General. Only District 3 corn- Commissioner John Ambrose opposed rezoning for a Dollar General in Rum Creeek. missioner John Ambrose, whose district includes the property, voted against it. The four other commissioners were not swayed by impassioned pleas nearby resi- dents who said a Dollar General will increase crime and traffic and ruin their areas rustic charm. "I'm a free market, property rights' guy," said commission chairman Greg Tapley. 'q hat's a solid commercial location, across from commercial and he (Carver) has a right to buy the prop- erty and sell it (to Dollar General)." New commissioner George Emami agreed. ''I've never shopped at Dollar General my entire life," said Emami. "And rve looked around and quite honestly I can't say if I would want one right next door to me. But the challenge is here, that's not the question. I don't get the feeling the store is going to increase crime, and it won't blow traf- fic counts through the water." The county's zoning board had recommended approval for a Dollar General rezoning in July despite opponents show- ing up en masse with objections. Dollar General representatives aimed to answer some of those concerns before Tuesday's vote, presenting evidence of other Dollar General stores in the area that did not hurt an areas property values after con- struetion. But v rflliam Roquemore, who owns the Rum Creek con- venience store across the street, said his own daughter had considered buying a home up Hwy. 87 from the store in Juliette but backed out because the home was next to the new Dollar General in Juliette. Roquemore said he's the fifth generation in his family to live in the Dames Ferry area and wants it to remain a rec- reational area for hunting and fishing, not a com- mercial area. ' Ib turn it into a shopping area destroys the community," said Roquemore. Roquemore said he closed a pizza restaurant that rented space from him behind his store because they wanted it to become a late-night bar. "It was making money but it didn't fit what this community needed," said Roquemore. Hwy. 18 resident Greg Elrod said that Roquemore has been a good neighbor in the community but Dollar General would not be due to traffic problems. "Hwy. 18 is the most dangerous road in Monroe County," said Elrod. '%Ve're still learning how to use the roundabout and anymore back up there will be a nightmare. You're gonna have an absolute mess and a massive traffic jam." Christian Road resident Jonathan Blankenship added that crime will increase as well. "For whatever reason, dollar stores get robbed," said Blankenship. 'WIonroe County is the most desirable place to live in Middle Georgia-- it's safe and has rising property values. But you'll be undermining what makes our county so desirable." Kenneth Whitehead of Hwy. 87 said he already has to wait 15 minutes to get out of his driveway and a Dollar General will only make it worse. '"they tell you how good it's gonna look," said Whitehead, '"out they don't tell you about the one in Jeffersonville and Byron where you have to kick trash out of the way so you can get in." Hwy. 18 resident Phil Welch noted that the property owner, Jonathan Carver, has said he bought his property for hunting purposes and wondered how that fit with plans for a store. "Is he gonna hunt in the Dollar General parking lot?" asked Welch. Bobby Thompson of Pea Ridge Road went further, asking if Carver bought the property just to sell it for a profit. don't know what his intentions are," said Thompson. But commissioners pushed back at the attacks on Carver. "I keep hearing 'when did he get here? Where's he from?'," said Emami. "But that has no bearing on our decision. I haven't made my decision yet. But we're barely capable of making it to our meet- ings on time, so we prob- ably shouldn't be diving into someone's inner heart to determine their intentions." Finally, Ambrose motioned to reject the rezoning request, saying that after what happened witha fast-growing car lot on a commercial property in Bohngbroke, he's leery of allowing more commercial zoning. Dollar General presented this sketch to comissioners saying this is what the store in Rum Creek with look like. After Ambrose's motion uses. That motion passed ' (ou said find some- failed, commissioner 4-1, with only Ambrose thing that's on a state Larry Evans motioned to opposed, road," said Emami. "And approve the commercial Emami needled here the state is covering zoning provided that the Ambrose for his oppo- that." store be at least the qual- sition, noting he had But when it became ity of the sketch of the also opposed a rezoningclear commissioners brick building provided for a concrete plant onwould approve it, Elrod by Dollar General, and Johnstonville Road in voiced his frustration that the property come November saying that hethat the county always back before commission- would support it if it was green lights things in ers if it ever changes on a state highway, that area. 478-992-9800 Complete Auto Body Repair Painting Frame Work . insurance Claims Assistance . Mechanica,Air Conditioning Computer Diagnostics. Brakes Is it time to change your oil? 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