The Milbank City Planning and Zoning Board will hold a special meeting Monday, May 21, at 5:30 p.m. to decide a rezoning request presented by a development company planning to construct and operate a Dollar General store at the intersection of US Highway 12 and Viola Street.
The planning and zoning board’s recommendation will be sent to the Milbank City Council. The Milbank City Council will hold a meeting at 6 p.m. to vote on that same recommendation. If the board votes to grant the rezoning request, the board could proceed to vote on the conditional use and variance applications also requested by the developer, or choose to table those votes. Each meeting allows for public comments.
The developer, Colby 2018, LLC, has met with resistance from a group of concerned residents. On May 7, the Milbank Planning and Zoning Board held a meeting at which over 30 neighboring property owners attended. Most of the discontent stemmed from the need to rezone the proposed building site from R-2 or general residential to B1 or limited business. The store would be built and operated on three properties: 402 S. Viola – a bare lot owned by Sharon Pinkert, a single family residence at 404 S. Viola – owned by Viola Ward, and a multi-family unit at 406 South Viola Street – owned by Darcy L. Johannsen. The project also requires a conditional use permit to operate a retail store on the site and a variance to breach the rear setback limit and to reduce the number of required parking spots.
Lance O’Farrell represented Dollar General and said the store will be open from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. seven days a week. It is expected to employ seven to nine people and its projected sales are $1.2 million annually. He said a privacy fence would be erected on the southwest side of the building and the one delivery by semi per week would occur on Viola Street.
Roger Hoff, who served as a member of the planning and zoning board for 14 years, said he lives in a 103-year-old home near the proposed project. “It’s a historic neighborhood. Don’t change it. Don’t ruin 17 houses in a residential neighborhood.” He said while he was a member of the committee, a comprehensive plan was commissioned and completed. The plan states, “The Residential Use Goal: Maintain and enhance the identity and unique characteristics of residential areas of the community, especially historic neighborhoods”
“This (project) would do the exact opposite of the stated goal,” Hoff said. He said, “The plan also states, ‘Encourage the maintenance of existing sound housing and the replacement of substandard housing units.'” He believes the City of Milbank and the Economic Development Board “should do what is right.”
Scott Hoeke, President of Grant County Economic Development Corporation said, “We are all friends here, but I think there are other areas in town that are already commercial ready. Sharon Pinkert added, “Trevett’s would have been an ok location but not as much traffic.” She said lights would help deter crime, but others saw bright lights as detracting from the overall ambiance of the neighborhood, and predicted additional decline due to garbage, wear and tear on the new street, and noise.
Dolly Lenards spoke of her concerns, “This new business is in relation to Unity Square on the sidewalk. Being a teacher, I am afraid for the children’s safety. They will be in the path of traffic on that sidewalk.”
Jim Lusk had a different grievance. He said, “15 years ago, I purchased the same property (Pinkert parcel) and tried to open my monument business there. I was rejected. A precedent has been established not to allow this parcel to be rezoned.”
According to Colby Capital, LLC’s website, “Colby Capital completed 60 purchase and sale transactions in 2015, and partners with Dollar General as their preferred developer in four states.” Dollar General has 32 locations in South Dakota, five in North Dakota, 97 in Minnesota, and 205 in Iowa. Dollar General is headquartered in Tennessee. As of February 2, 2018, the company had 14,534 stores that operate in 40 US states.