Legislation spurred by ‘dollar’ stores to be considered by Atlanta City Council

Legislation that would allow Atlanta City Council members to keep tabs on new building permits and other developments in their districts is set for a vote Monday.

The proposed ordinance doesn’t mention discount “dollar” stores, but a furor over a planned Family Dollar in southwest Atlanta provided the impetus.

The new location at the intersection of Benjamin E. Mays Drive and Fairburn Road led some residents to protest what they described as the encroachment of dollar stores into their neighborhood.

City Councilman C.T. Martin, who represents the area, said he worries that other similar discount chains will spread from retail corridors into residential areas.

“I would assume, to keep up with their competition, they would also come into the neighborhoods,” Martin told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This one needs to be stopped.”

It is unclear if the legislation up for a vote Monday would accomplish that. The ordinance would provide for biweekly reports to City Council members about building permit applications received and permits issued for commercial development within the Cascade Heights commercial district and other parts of southwest Atlanta. The legislation applies only to council Districts 10 and 11.

“I don’t have a problem with dollar stores or discount stores,” said Keisha Lance Bottoms, who represents District 11. “But I do have a problem with stores coming into the community and not being maintained.”

Martin said the reports on permits and permit applications would allow council members to share pertinent information with their constituents to help them understand the effect of projects on property values.

Meanwhile, residents of southwest Atlanta have been invited to a town hall meeting to discuss an influx of discount retail stores in their neighborhoods. The forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the Adamsville Recreation Center, 3201 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The push back against Family Dollar’s expansion plans in southwest Atlanta has grown in recent weeks. On Aug. 14, more than 200 residents reportedly turned out for a community meeting scheduled to discuss how to oppose the planned store.

Then, some residents traveled by van to the company’s North Carolina headquarters to petition chief executive Howard Levine not to build additional stores in the area. They ended up being delegated to staffers from the company’s public relations and real estate offices, Martin said.

Family Dollar has given no indication it has changed its plans for the new store in southwest Atlanta.

Bryn Winburn, spokeswoman for Family Dollar, said the company has a growing customer base.

“We know that there is more need for our products than ever before in areas like Atlanta,” Winburn said Friday, adding that each new store hires between eight and 10 employees. “We look forward to serving those communities in the future.”

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