Ron Retterer's boat and auto storage lot is a mess of code violations.
Open boats and split tires on his property collect rainwater, making it a mosquito breeding ground, and the overgrown ditch in the back, well, that never gets cleaned out, said Greg Rice, Dunedin's director of planning and development.
A volunteer advisory board went so far as to call Retterer's storage lot an "eyesore" during a Nov. 14 Local Planning Agency meeting, but snubbed plans for land use and zone changes that would allow a major discount retail store to go in its place.
Rice is bringing the snubbed proposal for a Dollar General Store at 1326 San Christopher Dr. to city commissioners for approval Thursday anyway.
Discount Retail Store May Help Struggling Neighborhood
Retterer's property sits among a modest cluster of convenience stores, including Oasis Food & Fuel and B & N Food Mart, a Domino's Pizza and a hair salon, Pinehurst Pub, and a strip mall occupied by Global Marking Resources, Inc, occupies the entire building on the west.
To the east, his property practically abuts the backyard of three homes in the Scotchwood Glen cul de sac. All have a just market value under $100,000, according to county property records.
The area is the next corridor on the city's to-do list of Captial Improvements, he said.
"If you look at the demographics in that area, people are struggling," Rice said.
Cars, trucks, boats, semi-trailer trucks, and other large equipment have been stored on Retterer's property for the past 37 years. Rice said the city has fielded countless complaints about the property over the years, and bringing in Dollar General is an opportunity for improvement.
"If you start looking at what we're trying to do in this city with trying to make things walkable; this is going to give us this opportunity," Rice said.
"There's definitely some older folks down by the high school, and you're possibly giving them the opportunity that they can walk to get these basic items [at Dollar General]. ... It could be a good thing for this little node."
Some Neighbors Voice Traffic, Noise Concerns
Ron Fekete was among three residents who voiced concerns at the Nov. 14 Local Planning Agency meeting.
Fekete lives a few blocks away on San Salvador Drive. He said the San Christopher-Pinehurst intersection couldn't handle the anticipated extra 191 peak-hour trips, even though a city traffic impact study allows for at least 570 more than that.
He pointed to a merge lane that confuses southbound motorists on Pinehurst Drive.
"That whole intersection is a disaster to begin with," Fekete said. "Now you want 18-wheelers ..."
Retterer said he's had plenty of 18-wheelers on his property without any problems. Rice said the store would only have once-a-week deliveries.
Ron Black, who lives on Scotchwood Glen, asked for a concrete fence to cut down on noise and potential trespassing of "kids hanging out." He also worried about losing home value if a Dollar General moves next door.
Another resident suggested opening the property as a public park or community garden, but the property is privately owned. She speculated that shoppers would travel to Publix or Winn Dixie instead, and fears it may fail.
"I don't want to get boarded up and become a ghetto," she said.
One Dollar General Too Many for Advisory Board
Local Planning Agency members admitted that the proposal would be an improvement from the current "eyesore," but were not crazy for another discount retail store.
"What about this area says 'dollar stores, come on down?' " Daniel Dennehy, Local Planning Agency board member, asked the developer on Nov. 14.
The City Commission approved plans for a Dollar General at 1260 Belcher Road in October. Dunedin has one other Dollar General Store at Causeway Plaza. The stores carry school supplies, beach items, toys, toiletries, dog and cat food, clothing, accessories, food items and seasonal decorations at prices between $1 and $10.
The national retail chain is looking to expand by 600 to 800 stores in Florida over the next year.
The developer said Dollar General based its interest on population density studies and is locked into leases in the area for the next 15 to 25 years, a tax boon for Dunedin.
Despite the citizen advisory board's disapproval, city staff is recommending Dunedin commissioners approve land use and zone changes that would allow the Dollar General Store to build on the site.
Retterer also hopes for commission approval.
"I do feel that the way these guys are working on this ... they deserve a chance to have this building, because I've worked my guts out down there," he said.
[Last Update: Thursday Dec. 6, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.]