Developer told Dollar General is a bad fit for historic commercial district in Gaines
Cobblestone Museum presents 1,186 petitions, asks developer to look at site across from Town Hall on 104
GAINES – The developers working on a controversial new Dollar General store that would in a historic commercial district say Dollar General wants to stay at a site that would be across from a cobblestone schoolhouse built in 1849.
Two officials from the Zaremba Group traveled from Cleveland to meet with Cobblestone Museum leaders and supporters on Thursday to go over the plan for the new 9,100-square-foot store.
Zaremba builds about 40 Dollar General stores a year. Zaremba buys the land, builds the store and leases the site to Dollar General.
The proposed site for the Gaines store is in a wooded area, just east of the routes 98 and 104 intersection. It is a high traffic area, and is the preferred location for Dollar General, which does the market analysis for its stores, said Gary Hough, senior director of development for Zaremba.
“This is the location they believe in,” Hough told about 50 people at the meeting inside the Cobblestone Universalist Church, a building constructed in 1834. “They have charged us to move forward.”
Doug Farley, the museum director, presented 1,186 petitions against the Dollar General’s proposed site in the historic district. Farley handed the petitions to Hough and Mary Ann Wervey, vice president of Retail Development for the Zaremba Group.
Farley said the project should have never been considered by the Gaines Zoning Board of Appeals. A zoning misinterpretation has, unfortunately, allowed Zaremba to spend money on a site that shouldn’t be developed for a commercial chain store, Farley said.
“It was a very bad decision by the Zoning Board to allow it to get to this point,” he said. “We are clearly an interested party and we’ve been ignored.”
The historic commercial district allows convenience stores, such as Crosby’s. However, the district doesn’t allow a general store.
The Dollar General was deemed suitable in the zoning by Gaines ZBA officials, who said it is a convenience store. However, the Cobblestone Museum said the Dollar General, at a proposed 9,100 square feet, should be considered a general store, and thus not allowed in the historic district.
Farley said the presence of the Dollar General would have a damaging effect on the Cobblestone Museum and the historic district, an impact that couldn’t be reversed once the store was built.
Museum supporters worry that the Dollar General would also bring more chain stores to the district. Zaremba is developing about 1 acre for the store, but 4 other undeveloped acres are next to the site.
There are already five Dollar General stores in Orleans County – Albion, Holley, Kendall, Medina and Ridgeway. That seems to be more than enough, the Zaremba officials were told.
However, Hough said Dollar General sees more opportunity in the county with the store in Gaines.
“It’s a new trade area they feel they are serving,” he said about Gaines. “They find this to be a new location they are not serving.”
Farley asked Zaremba to hold off on pushing for the store for at least six months because Gaines is looking to update its comprehensive plan and possibly expand the commercial district on Route 104.
Hough said the developer is limited right now where a commercial building can go in Gaines on Route 104. The commercial district is limited to historic area of Gaines.
Farley also asked the company to look at undeveloped land across from the Gaines Town Hall. That would be a prime spot for the Dollar General, he said.
Hough and Wervey said they would share the concerns from the museum with Dollar General.
Hough also said the company has some screening in the plan for the building, should it go across the street from the historic schoolhouse. The store also will have an upgraded look from many of the stores, he said.
(Editor’s Note: Orleans Hub editor Tom Rivers is a member of the Cobblestone Museum’s board of trustees.)