ELK RAPIDS — Developers who sought to build a new Dollar General store in Elk Rapids pulled back their plans at the last minute.
Overland Engineering of West Plains, Missouri, contacted village officials Monday to request its rezoning application for a store be withdrawn. Village planning commissioners were set to consider the request during Tuesday’s meeting.
Multiple Elk Rapids officials confirmed the plan was unexpectedly pulled back.
“I think one could assume they may have realized with the ordinance we do have in place, they would have to present a very strong case for a variance,” said Royce Ragland, Elk Rapids Planning Commission chairperson.
Village zoning restricts new commercial buildings to a maximum 3,000 square feet, a third the size of a standard Dollar General building footprint.
And it wasn’t only the village which received confirmation the discount store deal was dead.
Doug Bronkema, local real estate broker, said not only was the store plan pulled back from the planning commission, but the developer also dropped a purchase offer for an available lot at the intersection of Ames and Henry streets in Elk Rapids.
Bronkema, who also serves as a village trustee, said he warned developers from the beginning local zoning would present a significant challenge.
Rodney Parrott, engineer with Overland Engineering, confirmed the rezoning request was withdrawn. He referred questions about why the plans were nixed to Jacob Stauffer, executive vice president and general counsel for the Missouri-based Overland Group, who could not be reached for comment.
Critics of the new store proposal point to vocal public dissent as a likely reason why the proposal failed.
Greg Reisig is an Elk Rapids resident who has been outspoken both online and at public meetings in opposition to a new Dollar General store coming to town.
“There can be no doubt public opposition from village residents was a huge factor,” Reisig said.
Ragland confirmed it was an “open secret” across town that many residents were expected to speak against any requested rezoning for the planned store during Tuesday’s public meeting.
“Many people were aware it wasn’t really in keeping with our master plan,” Ragland said.
She said the long-standing ordinance was designed to maintain the small-town character of Elk Rapids.
A different, Wisconsin-based development company named Midwest V faces challenges to the construction of new Dollar General stores in Empire, Maple City and Lake Ann. Officials in both Empire and Lake Ann this year adopted moratoriums on zoning requests within downtown or commercial districts.