County: Little to do about Dollar General
June 6, 2019
There's little Wahkiakum County can do or want to do to stop a corporate store from locating in Cathlamet, officials said Tuesday.
The Dollar General retail chain plans to build a store on recently cleared ground near the corner of North Jacobson Road and SR 4 on the east side of Cathlamet.
According to Dollar General's website, the stores sell a variety of merchandise ranging from snack food and makeup to clothes and motor oil.
Speaking Tuesday to the county board of commissioners, Puget Island resident Kristin Lee sparked a long discussion when she voiced concern that the store would have a detrimental impact on the community and asked that the commission order a review of the store's permit application.
As part of its application for a building permit, the store completed a State Environmental Policy Act assessment, and although the county building department concluded the project would have "non-significant" impact, Lee felt further review was needed concerning the section regarding impacts on neighbors and the community. These range from increased traffic and light and noise pollution to increased crime from transients and competition with existing businesses. She also questioned whether the storm water runoff assessment was thorough.
"Do not wait till it's too late and you wish you had done something earlier," she said.
Commissioners said they had received letters and phone calls from people objecting to the planned new store, but they didn't see a need to get involved with the process at the moment because there is a process in place for handling new construction.
Commissioner Mike Backman said the board had received a letter from a Rosedale business owner expressing concern about the new store. The county, he said, has rules in place to govern development, and officials can't officially oppose something just because they don't like it.
"We've got to follow the rules that are in place," Backman said.
"We'll look at everything that comes up," said commission Chair Dan Cothren.
"This is an opportunity to go back and look at the check list," Lee said. "I'm saying there is a process, and I don't think it was adhered to."
"We have to treat everybody who comes in the same," Backman said.
"I get all that," Lee said, "but this is a completely different beast. They chip away at the community."
County Public Works Director Chuck Beyer commented that the building permit process is an internal process to see if a project meets building codes and related laws, just like a gas station or other business. It doesn't need board review, like a shoreline development would need.
"I'm not advocating for any of them, but we've got to be equal," he added.
"Please take time to review this," Lee implored the officials. "You need to really look at these guys. You can look at the third SEPA condition and say it's unhealthy for our community and you need to do this and this and this . . . "
"At this point, it's just like another business coming in," Cothren said. "I've seen a lot of letters, but probably a majority would support it.
"Why would we put up a road block for a business? There's a reason we live here in Wahkiakum County. We don't like all these restrictions."
Lee repeated her plea for the commissioners to ask the building and planning department to take a longer look at the store's potential impacts and possible mitigation.
"All I can say is we'll take it under advisement," Cothren said.