Palm Coast City Council pushes back against growing number of dollar stores

Council votes to place 120-day moratorium on establishment of ‘small box stores’

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – The Palm Coast City Council voted unanimously this week to put a hold on the approval of any more small box discount dollar stores coming to the Flagler County city.

City Council members voted 5-0 on Tuesday to place a 120-day moratorium on the establishment of “small box stores,” including Dollar General, Dollar Tree and similar stores.

Currently, there are 10 dollar stores in Flagler County, which will not be affected by the moratorium. Two proposed Dollar Generals will now be put on hold for at least 120 days.

“This is definitely not a ban on discount stores or box stores," Mayor Milissa Holland said. "That’s never been the dialogue or discussion. What’s being really addressed is where they should be housed. It has a lot more to do with zoning and again, not impacting our residents’ quality of life.”

The moratorium prevents any dollar stores from being approved by the city or any permits needed to build one. In the meantime, the city council will work on legislation to regulate the small box stores.

“Landmass wise, we’re a large city, when you take that into consideration, we do have cores, commercial corridors and commercial cores where we feel it’s appropriate for the box stores to be housed," Holland said.

Resident Ozzie Redman took issue with where the discount stores are popping up.

“It is not normal for them to place commercial stores in the middle of residential areas," Redman said.

The vote comes in the wake of similar concerns in other cities across the U.S.

In January, a Webster City, Iowa, city council rejected plans to sell a portion of a city park to Dollar General developers, The Associated Press reports. In DeKalb County, Georgia, the county commission passed a 45-day moratorium on dollar store approval until leaders can determine what should be done about the growing number of discount stores. There are 68 in DeKalb County, reports CBS 46.

According to this 2018 report for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, approximately 75% of Dollar General stores are located in towns of 20,000 or fewer people. There are now more than 16,000 Dollar General locations across the U.S., according to the company.

Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Dollar General responded to Palm Coast becoming the latest city to pass such a moratorium.

“We are disappointed that policymakers have chosen to limit Dollar General’s ability to serve the Palm Coast community,” a spokesperson for Dollar General said in a statement. "We believe that moratoria adversely affects customers who are forced to travel farther and/or spend more on everyday needs. We strive to create a positive impact by being a strong business partner and a good neighbor. We appreciate the opportunity to serve the Palm Coast community and look forward to doing so in the future.

Potential Dollar General sites are “carefully evaluated," the company said, adding the stores “affordable retail options in communities that other retailers may choose not to serve.”

Dollar Tree and Family Dollar are owned by the same company. Officials said they have paid “billions of dollars in state and local taxes” and invests in “the communities we serve.”

“We understand deeply the concerns of many local officials regarding the changing nature of our shared communities across the country, and – as part of those communities ‐‐ we are always looking for new ways to help our neighborhoods be healthier, stronger and safer,” Dollar Tree and Family Dollar said in a statement.

View a map below of the dollar stores in Flagler County.

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