Palmyra will decide whether to rezone a residential lot in case Dollar General wants it

A proposal to rezone almost three acres of vacant land in Palmyra Township for a Dollar General store is worrying residents who fear the change could hurt an existing local business and residential property values.

The land is near the northeast corner of state Route 225 and Tallmadge Road, and is owned by Michelle Butler of Lake Milton. It fronts Tallmadge Road and is currently zoned residential. 

Butler, who is seeking to rezone 2.91 acres of the 17-acre parcel to commercial use, will appear before the trustees at 7 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Palmyra Fire Station. If the trustees approve the zoning change, the remaining landlocked acreage will be given to neighbors, Zoning Inspector Sandra Nutter said.

Butler could not be reached for comment.

The property is sandwiched between the Palmyra Little Village Shopper and a residential home whose owner could not be reached for comment. Across the street are a home that burned earlier this month and an empty home with a for sale sign in front of it.

The zoning application has already been approved by the Palmyra Township Zoning Commission and the Portage County Regional Planning Commission. All that is left is the trustees’ final say, Trustee Henry Michael said.

Michael encouraged all interested residents to attend the meeting.

Reached for comment, Dollar General’s corporate office said the company is “reviewing the opportunity to add a new store in Portage County, but we have not committed to doing so just yet. Based on our current timeline, we anticipate having a final decision by spring 2022.”

If the property is rezoned for commercial use but Dollar General backs out, the zoning change would still remain. Any type of commercial business could move in. 

Michael declined to comment on Dollar General’s lack of commitment other than to say he would raise the point at the meeting.

Increased traffic and potentially lower property values have area residents concerned, said Palmyra resident Roger Gibbons, who noted that the proposed zoning amendment would result in one residential property caught between two commercial parcels.

Spot zoning is “unfortunately how things have gone in Palmyra Township,” excepting the area near I-76, Michael said.

Gibbons also questioned the need for a Dollar General in Palmyra as there are already two in Lake Milton, one in Deerfield and one in Edinburg.

“Apparently they want one every five to seven miles,” he said. “But what’s going to happen in 10 years when they decide to vacate it, like they did in Lake Milton? They built another one across the street, and that one’s still sitting empty.”

Gibbons also pointed to community involvement. When the house across the street from the Little Village Shopper burned earlier this month, Manager Bobby Patel offered to temporarily house the displaced residents in one of his apartments for free. No Dollar General leadership would do such a thing, Gibbons said.

In a brief interview, Patel said a Dollar General would definitely have a negative impact on the business.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.