The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 10, 2013

Conneaut planning group OKs Dollar General stores

Two businesses to be built by different developers

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Barring a huge snag, shoppers in Conneaut will definitely have two Dollar General options by late summer, thanks to action taken Tuesday by the city’s Planning Commission.

Members unanimously approved concepts submitted by separate developers for stores that could be built at the same time less than three miles apart on Route 20. One store will rise downtown, while the other will occupy a corner at Route 20 and Gore Road. Construction will begin as soon as weather permits, said Ron Maki, commission chairman.

“Once ground is broken, (developers) expect to open their doors 70 days later,” he said Wednesday.

The five planning members at the meeting enthusiastically endorsed the proposals, Maki said.

“Everything went fine,” he said. “I am elated.”

The commission gave their final stamp of approval to the downtown store, a project that has been in the pipeline for several weeks. A handful of empty buildings in the area of Washington, Harbor and State (Route 20) streets will be demolished to make room for the 9,100-square-foot store. The store, to be built by Zaremba Group, will feature some architectural details to help it blend in somewhat with its decades-old neighbors.

As planned, the downtown store will boast special lighting and a partial sandstone/red brick facade, Maki said. “It will look more like the rest of the downtown buildings,” he said.

The Planning Commission had withheld final approval of the downtown store’s plans until city administrators could arrange upgrades to the building’s appearance. The store will replace a Dollar General that has occupied a storefront at Main and Washington streets for many years.

At the same meeting, commission members authorized GBT Realty to proceed with plans for a similarly-sized store at the northeast corner of West Main (Route 20) and Gore roads. A garage on the parcel will be removed to make room for the new building, Maki said.

It’s expected the planning group will take a look at final blueprints when completed, but all issues regarding the site have already been satisfied, Maki said. “We will not hold up the project on West Main Road,” he said.

GBT Realty is the same Tennessee-based company that tried to erect a Dollar General at Route 20 and Parrish Road last year. City Council rejected a zoning change needed for the project, saying the location wasn’t suitable for a store that size. No zoning changes were needed for the two stores to be constructed this year.

Maki said the Planning Commission is dedicated to bring development to the city when possible. “We have a good commission,” he said.

City Manager Tim Eggleston and Planning/Zoning Manager Deanna Gates also deserve credit for encouraging and supporting the store projects, Maki said.

“We’re moving forward,” he said. “We’re not spinning our wheels.”