Lee Planning Board: Dollar General hopes to begin construction this year

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TOWN OF LEE — A request to subdivide land on the site of a proposed new Dollar General store raised questions among town Planning Board members Tuesday night, but the board chairman said Thursday the issue has been resolved.

The subdivision request, involving an area not needed for the project, will be withdrawn and documents clarifying the overall site’s ownership will be presented to the board, said Planning Board Chairman Edward Davis on Thursday.

Davis, who noted he spoke Wednesday with an official from an engineering firm that is working on project plans on behalf of Dollar General, said his understanding is that the store company hopes to begin construction this year. Among remaining details, Davis added, are for any remaining residents of mobile homes that have been on the site to depart, plus zoning and building permits for the store project need to be issued once the site ownership is clarified; some mobile homes already have left.

“To stop any confusion, we worked together....We resolved it,” Davis said of his discussion Wednesday with Dan Griffiths of Griffiths Engineering regarding the subdivision issue. The subdividing will not be pursued at this time and the project will “follow the plan as approved” previously by the Planning Board, he added. Seeking the subdivision would involve a process that could take two to three months, and “they want to be able to get started” on the store itself, he said.

The board on Tuesday night tabled the subdivision request, involving land on the west side of Turin Road/Route 26 and slightly south of Stokes-Lee Center Road, and had cited a need for more information. The request, submitted by Griffiths, involved subdividing about four acres from the overall site of about seven acres; plans previously approved by the board called for the store to be built on the other portion of the land.

However, the subdivision survey documents included the names of Terrence and Leila Hemming, who have been the landowners, rather than any parties on behalf of Dollar General.

Board member Dennis Sexton said at Tuesday’s meeting, “if the property’s been sold,” the Hemmings “no longer own” it and should not be subdividing it. If it has not yet been sold, he commented, the subdivision request would have “nothing to do with Dollar General.” He added “I’d like clarification...who still owns the property.”

Board member Patrick Pomento later observed “it’s confusing.”

Also questioned by board member Richard Quattrociocchi was a slight change in property lines from previously, including by a house that was to be demolished according to the Dollar General store plans. The proposed new 9,300-square-foot store is to be built on a 3.53-acre site based on plans approved by the Planning Board, but that site would be just under three acres according to the subdivision documents. Another issue cited by board members was that the subdivision documents made no reference to the store plans.

Davis said at the meeting he anticipates Dollar General will lease the property from an affiliated company that is purchasing the land.

Documents to be submitted for the project will “verify who owns it,” Davis said Thursday. The town cannot issue zoning and building permits for the project without that clarification, he added.

Dollar General spokesperson Angela Petkovic, when asked last month about the store project, had said. “I would encourage you to circle back with us in early fall.” She could not be reached for comment following the Planning Board discussions this week.

Petkovic previously has said Dollar General’s due diligence process in reviewing the opportunity for the new store included getting all needed permits to ensure the company could move forward with the store should it decide to at the end of the process. She also had said in April that the review processes had been affected by the COVID-19 situation.

The Planning Board began reviewing the store project plans last summer, and last October granted site plan approval for it.

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