Penn Valley Dollar General OK’d; Alta Sierra, Rough and Ready denied |

Penn Valley Dollar General OK’d; Alta Sierra, Rough and Ready denied

Opponents of Dollar General applauded on Thursday when the Nevada County Planning Commission unanimously signaled their intent to deny the business a site in Alta Sierra.

That vote, however, doesn’t close the automatic door on a business that wants a presence in Alta Sierra, Penn Valley and Rough and Ready.

Planning commissioners went against county staff recommendations for a Dollar General at 10166 Alta Sierra Drive in a vote the was one of intention only. Staff must return to the commission at a future meeting with new findings of fact. The commission is expected to formally deny the Alta Sierra Dollar General at its Nov. 9 meeting.

Commissioners cited an unsuitable site, lack of parking and aesthetics in their intended denial.

“I think the details of the store could be a lot better,” said Paul Aguilar, commission chairman. “I think that we do demand better in Nevada County.”

In the other two sites, commissioners opted to approve a development permit and management plan for the 17652 Penn Valley Drive site. They denied the permit and plan for the 12345 Rough and Ready Highway proposal.

In both those votes the commission followed staff recommendations, meaning no future action is required.

Dan Biswas — vice president of development with SimonCRE, a real estate developer working with Dollar General — said it would take two to three months to gain the necessary permitting before construction could begin on the approved Penn Valley site. Another five months is needed to build the structure.

Biswas had no answer about a possible appeal by Dollar General for the other two sites, saying it was that business’ decision.

Community concerns

A majority of attendees opposed the stores, though many voiced support for them.

Barry Pruett argued the Planning Commission had no legal reason to deny the stores. Denying them would create instability for future applicants who want to bring businesses to Nevada County. Additionally, a lack of businesses would only perpetuate the housing problem here, Pruett said.

Carol Young said more stores will provide options to older residents who want to remain independent.

“I’m sorry the store has a dumb name and I’m sorry it’s not invisible,” Young said. “This is an option — I can’t tell you how important this option is.”

Michael Mastrodonato, president of the Penn Valley Area Chamber of Commerce and a business manager, said his chamber issued no opinion on his area’s store. Saying he was speaking for himself, Mastrodonato urged the commission to approve the Penn Valley site.

“We’ve got a rare opportunity in Nevada County for some economic development, finally,” he said.

Most people opposed the stores. Discussing the Alta Sierra site, Charisse Lolli said she wanted no chain store near homes and disputed that it would complement existing businesses.

“It makes no sense to do this,” she said. “In your decision I hope you do not confuse convenience with needs.”

Ray Yedding said water runoff was his main concern, saying he’s written 126 emails since 2014 about the projects.

Robin Voigt said Dollar General would create competition for existing stores, arguing that profits from the Tennessee-based business would leave the community.

“It is the visual impact,” she said. “I have to say it is not a fit for the community.”

Brenda Wells asked planning commissioners to think about the impact to residents. Juanita Hoffman, who spoke immediately after Wells, said her Rough and Ready neighbors don’t approve of that store.

“I just don’t want to see this happen in our neighborhood,” Hoffman said.

The stores

Tyler Barrington, principal planner with Nevada County, took about an hour to deliver his presentation about the Alta Sierra site. Some attendees audibly dismissed some statements, like the 450 truck trips needed to remove landfill from the area. A few also chided a comment that the new store could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because nearby residents wouldn’t drive as far for their shopping.

Most attendees left after the commission’s vote on the Alta Sierra site. Only a handful spoke during public comment about the Penn Valley and Rough and Ready sites.

Biswas, the real estate developer working with Dollar General, said there are over 14,000 stores in 44 states.

“One misconception about Dollar General is that it’s a dollar store,” he said. “Another misconception is that Dollar General is a big box store.”

According to Biswas, each store would produce $1.6 million in taxable sales. The leases at the stores — Dollar General leases the property from SimonCRE — won’t expire until 2032.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

This story was updated on Oct. 27, 2017, to correct a quotation from Charisse Lolli.

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