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Should Dollar General Replace 'Eyesore' Storage Lot in Dunedin?

The second proposal for a Dollar General Store up for public discussion within the last 75 days — this one at San Christopher Drive and Pinehurst Road — is on the agenda for Thursday's city meeting at City Hall.

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. 

Related Coverage:

  • Incoming Dollar General Sparks Talk of New Anti Cookie-Cutter Codes

[Last Update: Thursday Dec. 6, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.]

Mary Sault December 06, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Please no. We'll then have at least 3 of this type of store within 1/2 mile of each other - the new one on 580, the one in the plaza at Patricia and 580, and then this one. Too many. These are not destination stores. They don't attract shoppers or tourists. It may bring "closure" to the lot for a few years but I don't think it's an improvement for the neighborhood or city at all.
Lori December 06, 2012 at 01:31 PM
And please explain how our intelligent city officials feel another Dollar General will bring anything REALLY needed to Dunedin? Please NO....but when has Dunedin EVER listended to its residents!
Michelle Crash December 06, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Why don't they put an Amscot in there too while they're at it. :P
barb weston December 06, 2012 at 02:57 PM
My vote is also "NO"! if there are code violations please just enforce them. we do not need anymore traffic in that area!
Lori December 06, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Great comment Michelle....
Cecilia December 06, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Exactly what we need is in this area is more traffic - NOT!!!!! We are inundated with excess traffic and speeders (we know this because we have new flashing speed signs that now show us how fast the speeders are actually traveling) on my street as it is. This will just add more! NO NO NO NO NO. City Commission promised to help us with this issue (excess traffic and speeders) and all we got were electronic signs that just point out our problems in flashing glaring lights; and now this? NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO With a new store, no one will want to travel Pinehurst with the added traffic a new business will bring and even more overflow will likely head down Patricia Ave between San Christopher and San Salvador - NO NO NO!!!!!! WHEN WILL THIS STOP???????
June Kovac December 06, 2012 at 05:09 PM
PUH LEEZE!!! I CAN'T believe that "CITY LEADERS'(?), are ACTUALLY ENTERTAINING the option of a DOLLAR GENERAL...???? another discount store? What exactly is this saying regarding business viability,not to mention Dunedins' fine reputation as a tourist/vacation destination? Surely they can come up with something other than another discount store-it's starting to look like on every corner there's a discount store-NOT the type of business climate I'd be PROUD of.
Lori December 06, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Michelle-I wasnt being sarcastic..picking a fight...?
Don R December 06, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Are we promoting a “dollar-store economy” in Delightful Dunedin? *There are already three dollar stores within 4,000 feet of Pinehurst and 580. Is the demand that high? *Opposition to Dollar General is occurring in New Hampshire, New Mexico, California, Vermont, and Indiana for many of these same reasons. They can’t all be wrong; *Dollar General says they serve “customers who have few retail options.” A ride along 580 or US19 clearly shows we have a plenty of retail options. *Can San Chris handle an increase in traffic? The road is narrow with no shoulder. What about turn lanes, curb cuts and traffic controls? Don’t turn San Christopher into 580. Keep this type of retail on Main Street. *There is a significant and negative correlation between dollar stores and median income; Don’t drag on the already sluggish economy; *Dollar stores are concentrated in states with lower levels of education or human capital. Let’s not proliferate this trend; *Dollar stores states are positively associated with property crime, especially burglary, and violent crime, especially murder and manslaughter. We already have some concerns over recent increases in crime, particularly theft; *A failure to enforce codes at an existing property should not be a valid reason to approve this development. *Conduct the studies, do the research, and ask the public what they think before proceeding. I say NO. Don R.
Michelle Crash December 06, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Sorry, misread your use of elipses
Michelle Crash December 06, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Great post, Don!
Katie Dolac December 06, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Just got some interesting perspective from someone who commented on this story via Dunedin Patch Facebook page: Angie McCarthy Wallace: I live on Ohio directly behind this lot. It has been a haven for crime for years. I don't necessarily want another dollar store in Dunedin, but anything is better than what is there now. There are cops there all the time, teenagers are always hanging out there and vandalizing the boats/rvs, and half of the boats/rv's are just junk. I am tired of looking at this every day for 22 years. Good riddance!!
Cecilia December 06, 2012 at 09:16 PM
One out of how many, and not one of us who are opposing this are in support of the eye sore that exists - at least not from the posts here. I can only imagine how bad it must be living behing the mess that currently exists- but sure there is some better option than yet another Dollar Type store that will add more traffic to an area that is already suffering from excess. From the tone of Ms. Wallace's comment it seems she is more interested in just seeing that area cleaned up, not necessarily in direct support of the proposed Dollar Store...If I am wrong in this, then please correct me.
Don R December 06, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Agree the "eye sore" should be improved through code enforcement, beautification, police patrols, and other mechanisms. I don't believe a dollar store is the answer, however.
Michelle Crash December 06, 2012 at 11:37 PM
I agree it would be nice to see something go there but no more dollar stores, payday loan / check cashing, pawn shops or other business that target and cater to (or in the case of payday loans prey upon) lower income clientele. You don't want to bring a business like that into a neighborhood- and while yes, that area is zoned for business, that is primarily a residential area surrounding that intersection. It's not on a main road, and that intersection is very poorly designed. If you put a dollar store there you will have just as many teenagers back there skipping school and getting into trouble if not more, I promise you.
Michael J. Kovac December 07, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Do not put a Dollar General store at this location .
Katie Dolac December 07, 2012 at 03:54 PM
City leaders voted unanimously to approve the Dollar General at last night's city commission meeting. Full story: http://dunedin.patch.com/articles/dollar-general-one-step-closer-to-san-christopher
Don Ward Jr December 07, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Perhaps those of you who do not like the intended use should put up the money to buy the property from it's owner. Be careful what you wish for, when you go to sell your property, one day you may be stuck with it because NIMBYs around you don't like who you're selling to. Nothing's ever perfect, this is certainly an improvement. The suggestion to donate as a park is i, why don't you all donate your homes to the City for a park?
Michelle Crash December 07, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Sad.
Michelle Crash December 07, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Don, are you speaking as a business property holder or as a residential property holder. For businesses this will be a good thing, for the residents of the surrounding neighborhood I don't see this as a value add. I don't think you'd appreciate your neighbor selling their home to Amscot or Western Union. You might be praying for nimbys to stick up and protect the property value of your neighborhood. Just some food for thought.
Cecilia December 07, 2012 at 06:08 PM
In fairness to the Commissioners - the vote that was approved was a land change ordinance - a request to change an approximately 30% (give or take) of the lot from multi family to Commercial - as a matter of law, their hands were more or less tied. I am very unhappy about this, but the readers do need to understand what was passed and why.
Cecilia December 08, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Don, Most of us are not opposed to a business going in there - just not a low rent business like the Dollar General Store. Most of us would welcome an upscale business, doctor office, restaurant, etc. Donating this lot to a park was never ever going to happen and never a viable option. And yes I do think that a Dollar General Store that is located directly adjacent to a residential neighborhood tags that area as an inner city ghetto type neighborhood -as do most people - and this neighborhood is certainly not that. If Dollar General was building on Main Street, I would be the first to say HOORAY!! But to put it in a residential community is a whole different thing. It is unfortunate that Dunedin Planners have chosen to present this to the Commission despite some strong citizien based opposition. Donate all our homes to the city for a park? Get real, the construction of this store will have serious negative impact on that area. This is not a joke nor is it a topic that our community should consider with such disregard.
Eric Peterson December 09, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Well this is very disturbing. Why bother holding open meetings, taking honest votes, having those votes counted to find out the majority are against the idea, but allowing it anyway. I agree, the lot is an eyesore. Perhaps vandalism is a problem. But you don't fix that by installing a business. Instead, clean up the lot. Hold the lot owner responsible for the security and organization of that lot... just like any resident is required to. I live in the neighborhood behind the rehab center. Right now there are TWO "Dollar-type" stores; one less than 1000 feet in front of me, and another not more than 2500 feet (1/4 mile or so) diagonally away in the plaza on Patricia. Do we need third? Is this truly the business we want to be propagating to excess? Honestly... even the prolific Walgreens isn't even THAT smothering. What about the poor pavement condition of San Christopher Road. east of Pinehurst? Will that support the increase in traffic? How about on school days, considering this new Dollar Store will be less than 2000 feet away from Dunedin High? I'm not against a new business. But this is the wrong way to do it. Here's the likely future scenario: The Dollar Store would get built, it would open for business. The traffic volume would be so low that it would shortly close and leave that location (after all, there are two others less than one block away)... Then you would have a vacant building on that lot. And the cycle starts all over again. Brilliant plan!
Candi Mobley January 14, 2013 at 06:12 PM
I LOVE the Idea of a Dollar General!! Within walking distance..For those who have no Transportation & Very Conveinant the Disabled as Well as for The Elderly whom have never driven!! I Say Bring On The Dollar General!! Been waiting for this Opportunity To Come!! When is the Ground Breaking Taking Place?? I would like to be their!! I agree with Angie..I live right behind the Property & YES!! It has been a Hang Out For..Teenager's Skipping School"Do you Know If Your's Is In School??" and The Junk that is being DUMPED Off everyday from Construction Worker's/Junk Auto's/Truck's/Boat's/Etc This place is a LITTLE TOY LAND DUMP!! And the Alcoholic Drinker's & Drug's going on as well as Riff Raff Drunks Occuping Vehicles/Old Rotten RV'S/BOAT'S Since 2005!! I see that the one's who are OPPOSING The Dollar General..Have Vehicles To Drive & are PROBABLY Not DISABLED & Don't even live near this PROPERTY!! I see that this is a BIG Improvement!! And The Dollar General Is even trying to come full circle and Build A CONCRETE WALL/Retension Pond and your still not HAPPY!! i see More Jobs & The Value of one's property GO UP instead of DOWN because of Conveinance and Less Pinellas County Sheriff Officer's there!! If it's the Noise that you say is bothering SOME of You?? Well I Myself have no problem with that no more then The Delivery Trucks that come to The B&N & The Oasis Stores on the corner as Well as The Pinehurst Pub What about that noise your complaining about!! Please
Candi Mobley January 14, 2013 at 06:21 PM
;) Donate your homes to the city for a beautiful park with a beautiful pool!! Serenity <3 That could be a Plan ;)
Candi Mobley January 14, 2013 at 06:25 PM
So!! When is The Breaking Ground Ceremony going to take place??? For the Dollar General????

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