At the intersection of Highway 18 and Highway 87 in Monroe County, you’ll find bunch of trees, a gas station, and a roundabout. In the coming months, there will be something else, a Dollar General.
“It’s going to change the ambiance of Dames Ferry, the community that it’s in, which is a predominantly rural and recreational area,” Greg Elrod said.
He and dozens of neighbors didn’t want commissioners to approve the zoning change for commercial use. That’s required before they can start construction.
Commissioner Eddie Rowland says it’s not that easy. He says when it comes to zoning, their hands are tied by law. They have to follow six standards when making a decision, and it can’t be based on emotion.
“Our more important job is to explain these standards to our citizens to let them understand that these rules are in place to be fair to each party,” Rowland said. “Both the parties that want the store and others that may not want it, it’s a way to be fair.”
Considering factors like traffic and neighboring properties, commissioners voted 4-1 to allow the project to move forward. If they hadn't, Rowland believes there could have been legal trouble.
“The representatives that are building the building for Dollar General would have likely sued the county,” Rowland said. “We would have had to reverse our decision, and also pay court costs.”
Elrod sees that a slippery slope for the future of Monroe County.
“There may be other developers that want to come in and use the same strategy now that they’ve seen how easy it is to get things through,” Elrod said. “I think we'll see a change in Monroe County because of it, and it may not be a good change.”