NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Some New Smyrna Beach business owners and residents voiced their concerns to city commissioners on Tuesday asking them to consider keeping big box stores away from the historical areas of town.
Almost 5,000 people signed a petition on change.org to keep parts of the city unique because they fear New Smyrna Beach could become “any town U.S.A.”
“It’s time to put boots on the ground. If we’re going to take a stance now’s the time,” said Alonda McCarty, co-owner of The Local Florida.
McCarty helped create the petition and wants the big box stores to stay away from Canal Street, Flagler Avenue and the loop that goes through 3rd Avenue.
"Seeing those chain businesses come in, they're going to quit looking for the little gems. We want to preserve these historical areas, the hearts of our town and the parts that we feel important for small business owners to be able to have those areas," she said.
Bryon White, CEO and co-founder of Yaupon Brothers American Tea, sells his product in 200 stores around the country including The Florida Local. White, who was born and raised in New Smyrna Beach, helped create the petition because he said it’s important to keep the neighborhood shops thriving.
“It is about local business. It is about small business and I think we got to band together and show the community that we’re here for you, we’re your small business community and we just want a level playing field,” White said.
Ahead of the meeting, City Commissioner Jason McGuirk said commissioners are ready to hear residents’ concerns.
“It’s just something that we need to hear from them, on what their idea is and then we’ll simply review it," McGuirk said. “Probably spend a lot of time going through processes with them to determine what can be done and what can’t be done and maybe we can alleviate some of the fears that they have.”
On Tuesday, commissioners directed city staff to review the proposal in the petition.
White said he and other supporters were happy with the result of the meeting.
“It was a good outcome and we’re moving forward,” White said.