On Tuesday, October 30, The Granite Falls Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Dollar General's request for two variances for a property located on Highway 212 at Lincoln Street. One is to allow the construction of a retail structure, located within 10 feet of the rear lot line. The other is to allow a variance relative to 28 parking spaces.
The planning commission members Les Bergquist, Jean Fagnano, Craig Bakkelund, Cathy Anderson, and Scott Peterson (council rep.), answered questions from community members and discussed the variances. It is worth noting that personal opinions, and the opinions of those in the community, are not legally permissible reasons for a board member to vote yes or no on the variances. City Council member Sarina Otaibi was in attendance and voiced concern with the project. Specifically, if someone buys a particular property, knowing the size of the parcel and the requirements of the store they'd like to build, is their request really unique? And that if they can't prove uniqueness, they technically don't meet statute for grounds to approve.
She referenced a Granite Falls city ordinance "the plight of the landowner is due to circumstances unique to the property not created by the landowner". However City Attorney Greg Holmstrom was quick to point out that specific ordinance was outdated and superseded by a new state ordinance. A local business owner voiced support for the Dollar General saying “Business brings business.” Her point being that it would attract people from surrounding communities and then they would shop at other stores around town.
Board member Scott Peterson voiced concerns over safety, Peterson was concerned with the stores proximity to the highway. Peterson was concerned of the high speed traffic that would be traveling through a busy area. He was concerned over the lack of a sidewalk and a left turn lane, he was also concerned with the possible foot traffic from nearby residents along and crossing the highway. Some community members voiced their disagreement with that position as well as fellow commission member Cathy Anderson. The planning commission ended up approving the variances 4-1 with Peterson being the only no vote.