Top Ten: No Family Dollar

A view of the proposed site for the Family Dollar store. Photo available for purchase

A view of the proposed site for the Family Dollar store.

Published: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 02:16 PM.

At a public hearing in November, packed with the project’s opponents, Apalachicola’s Planning and Zoning Commission gave a resounding no to a proposal to relocate the city’s Family Dollar store to a wooded site on U.S. 98 on the western edge of town, adjacent to the Best Western Inn.

By voice vote that sounded unanimous, P and Z decided against granting a special exception to the existing C-3 zoning so as to allow Panama City Beach’s Brett Woodward to construct a more than 8,300-square foot store on 1.16 acres at U.S. 98 and Clairmont.

Woodward told P & Z he had provided a full set of plans for the project in Nov. 2012, when he came for site approval to put in the Family Dollar store. “We want to relocate from the existing location because of poor visibility and more convenience associated with it,” he said.

Woodward said he submitted the project through the proper city channels, “tweaked the plan multiple times based on comments we received,” and now sought a special exception for specialty retail.

That category had invited much concern among the community when it was determined last year the project had to go through a special exception process, since it was not a permitted use under C-3. “I think you have to be careful how you construe specialty retail,” said Daly.

At a P & Z meeting in April 2012 had voted unanimously “to confirm that this project would fit into C-3 zoning.”

City Administrator Betty Webb followed up on that meeting five months later with a Sept. 19, 2012 letter to Woodward summarizing P & Z’s actions. Later, a more thorough reading of the land use regulations indicated that the project needed vetting through the special exception process, and by then community opposition, led by contiguous neighbors, had begun to gel.

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