BOC exploring small-box discount retailer ordinance

Concept site plan for Hampton-Locust Grove Road at Rocky Creek Road commercial development (Sibley-Miller photo)Discount stores, like the one proposed above, have increased their presence in the past year. (Sibley-Miller Surveying photo)

The Henry County Board of Commissioners has directed planning staff to prepare a draft ordinance and bring the proposal back before the board regarding small-box discount retailers. The retailers are more commonly referred to as dollar stores and a recent surge in their construction has caught the attention of local leaders throughout metro Atlanta.

Planning staff will draft an ordinance that, among other things, will propose a distance limitation between small-box discount retailers. The distance rule would prohibit new stores from being built if they are within a certain radius of existing locations.

It was not specified what that distance should be. The city of Stockbridge included a one-mile buffer when adopting a similar ordinance in July 2019, but a wider distance of three or five miles would better suit unincorporated Henry County.

Perhaps the best known of dollar stores, Dollar General, built several new stores throughout Henry County last year. The new stores generally build where land is already zoned commercial requiring no public hearing or approval from the board before being built.

An active rezoning request to build a store at the intersection of Hampton-Locust Grove and Rocky Creek Road will go before the commissioners later this month. The zoning advisory board recommended denial of the request in January.

Commissioners also asked staff to explore distance limitations for nail salons, vape shops, tattoo studios, beauty supply stores, and body piercing. A population-based cap may be appropriate for some businesses similar to the county’s existing ordinance regarding pawn shops.

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