HEBRON – Some Hebron residents hope the village rejects a request for rezoning and a variance to accommodate a proposed Dollar General in a residential area on US 40 (East Main Street), near the Ohio 79 interchange.
“I hate to see any commercial on that lot,” said resident Connie Keiffer, who lives next door to the lot. “It was supposed to remain residential.”
The issue was discussed during a Hebron Planning and Zoning Board meeting Nov. 3 and will likely be on the board’s agenda for their Monday, Dec. 1 meeting. At the Nov. 3 meeting, PennTex Ventures, LLC, representing Dollar General, requested a zoning amendment application to change the zoning at the Dernberger property at the 500 block of East Main Street in Hebron. An application has been received to amend the existing zoning district from medium density residential to neighborhood commercial.
“It’s a nightmare rush hour. There’s going to be accidents,” said resident Tami Beckett, who lives across the street from the proposed Dollar General site. Both Beckett and Keiffer said they have no problem with a Dollar General store coming to Hebron; they just wish it could be built on a lot that’s already zoned for commercial development.
Beckett said when the Ohio 79 Hebron bypass project began nearly 20 years ago, residents wanted to keep that area residential. “We do have an awful lot of traffic down our back alley,” she said.
“I share Guthridge Lane with three other residents for our driveways, and there is speeding traffic up and down there constantly, and I’m afraid that when people are trying to pull out of Dollar General, if they are not able to turn to the west, they will turn to the east and come up go around the alley to go back to where they need to be. That is quite a problem, but there is more traffic than you can believe that goes up and down the alley. Also, and just a few things, myself, I am not thrilled with the additional traffic, the headlights, the noise, and also there is commercial shopping 15 seconds to the east from that lot, and that is where I personally would like to see it stay.”
Beckett continued, “I personally love Dollar General. I shop there all the time, but I do not want to live across the street from it.” She said she lives in a family-built home 70-some years ago. “My husband has grown up in that home. He still lives there 55 years later. So we do love our peaceful little community.”
“I live on the west side of the lot,” said Keiffer during the Nov. 3 hearing. “I shop Dollar General as well, but I do not want to live beside of one.” She said she had several reasons.
“Even though they say the lights will be cast down there is still going to be additional light coming in the house from that,” Keiffer said. “You are going to have at night and in the evenings traffic coming in and out of that lot on the east end of my house.” Keiffer said headlights would beam through her windows. “Additionally, people will sit in that lot, maybe someone will be in the store shopping, but someone else will be sitting out in the car, and they are going to have their music booming. I don’t want to have to listen to that. I have to listen to it enough going up and down the highway, let alone sitting next door to me.”
Keiffer said, “And also, I have traffic, coming down 40. On the west side of my house I have traffic from the school board office and Hebron Heights apartments. Now I am going to have traffic from the Dollar General store on the west side of me. That encloses my house for traffic by three sides, three ways. I personally find that very difficult to live with, and it will cause additional traffic on 40 and additional noise.
“I just — like I say, I love Dollar General, but I can’t accept, I just can’t accept that being there,” Keiffer said. “It is a residential neighborhood. It needs to stay that way. Commercial needs to be off on the other end of town one way or the other, not in the middle of houses.”
“It’s zoned residential for a reason,” said Beckett. “If (the proposed Dollar General) closes, we’re stuck with an abandoned building.” She said her goal is to make neighbors and residents aware of the situation so they can attend village meetings and voice their opinions.
“It will end up in council’s lap,” said Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason. “As of right now, it’s not approved.” He agreed he’d love for Dollar General to locate in Hebron, but he’s also skeptical of the location choice.
Mason said during the hearing that he wasn’t aware of a traffic study conducted near the proposed site.
PennTex representative Ted Donald said Dollar General is considered to be low volume and shouldn’t affect traffic on US 40. “We have 32 parking spaces. There might be four or five spaces used at a time. We get one truck a week, basically, a large truck,” he said. “All of that traffic turns on our site. It doesn’t block the highway. That is why you see the width of our entrance is a little bit wider than others, because we don’t like to go over the yellow line on the highway. And the Frito truck may come, the Pepsi truck may come during the day. They aren’t heavy, heavy users.” Donald said there has not been a formal traffic study for US 40.
PennTex representative Ashley Weinman said PennTex has been looking for a suitable Dollar General location in Hebron for two years. “That is not an exaggeration,” she said. “I personally have been in Hebron searching for a good site for Dollar General for about two years. We initially had located the old (Bowman) car dealership, I believe it is the address 126 Main Street, along there. We experienced severe soil issues. They were just at the level that it just was not financially feasible for us to pursue that site with remediation. We also have looked at other kind of vacant options, across the street next to the shopping plaza here. The biggest issue that we have kind of come in contact here particularly in Hebron is the flood zone issue. Whether or not the areas that FEMA says they do actually flood, I don’t know, but for our lenders and for Dollar General’s purposes, we can’t build in anything that is an A, A EX, whatever it is, they just won’t let us do it.” So, their options are limited.
“Additionally, across from Kroger here, the out-parcels that are in front of Kroger all have use restrictions in their deeds and leases that were set by Kroger,” Weinman said. “They just won’t allow us there. And then across the street (from Kroger), the owner was not willing to subdivide their land. Also, we have no use for a hundred acres of land. We just need one. So that is what left us with our site here.”
Hebron Community Development Coordinator Linda Nicodemus said several residents sent in letters of support for Dollar General, and Lakewood Superintendent Jay Gault and Union Township Trustees expressed support as well. Trustee Charles Prince said trustees didn’t object to the proposed zoning change, but weren’t aware that Dollar General was planning to construct a store on the property. Trustees were asked about the zoning change since the township garage is across the street.
During the hearing, resident Andrea Chapman asked Mason if there is anything the Village of Hebron could do to calm traffic near the US 40 and Ohio 79 interchange.
“Currently, no, nor do we control that, because it is a state highway,” Mason said. “We have no authority whatsoever. We can’t install traffic control devices. We can’t change the speed limit. All we have the right to do is to enforce the state laws on the highway.”
“Because you go from 50 to 35 real quick right there. It’s kind of crazy,” Chapman said.
“We have approached the State of Ohio on a number of occasions, and there are reasons that the speed limit goes from 30 to 35 to 55 and from 55 to 35 in certain areas, and that is totally out of our control,” Mason said.
Beckett said she’s concerned that any commercial development would invite crime into the neighborhood area. “It won’t be safe to leave the doors open,” she said.