A group of Lamar County residents is opposing the construction of a proposed Dollar General store at the corner of Cole Road and West 4th Street, with the de facto spokesman of the group having gathered a petition of signatures from area citizens against the measure.
Jerry Idom, who lives on Circle J Idom Lane, has gathered approximately 25 signatures on the petition, which he said he delivered to Lamar County Chancery Court in early April to be presented to the Lamar County Board of Supervisors.
“Within four miles and one tenth (of that location) – in whatever way you want to go – we’ve got a Dollar General store,” Idom said. “Within that same four miles, we’ve got nine service stations with pick-a-packs.
“We’ve got three shopping centers and one CVS drugstore. So, I don’t see no need of another dollar store (that will eventually close).”
Idom referred to the Dollar General locations on Old Highway 11, Mississippi 589 going toward Purvis, and at the intersection of West 4th Street and Weathersby Road.
“The Dollar General on 4th Street, there had been five houses that were moved out and torn down because they can’t sell the lots to get away from the Dollar General store,” he said. “I just personally don’t think we need another Dollar General store (at the proposed location).”
The issue of the proposed Dollar General was discussed at the last meeting of the Lamar County Board of Supervisors, where board members expressed disagreement with the numbers and recommendations of a traffic study conducted by the owners of the land.
The study – which Lamar County Senior Planner Michael Hershman said focused mainly on West 4th Street rather than Cole Road – recommended that the county conduct the work, including upgrades to the road to make way for the new store. In addition, the traffic study – which was provided by a firm out of Birmingham, Alabama – indicated there are only seven new trips generated in the peak hour on Cole Road as a result of the development, and 14 new trips on West 4th Street.
“It indicated that Cole Road does not have impact, and the intersections are adequate,” County Engineer Don Walker said. “And they do recommend a turn lane on 4th Street from just east of the proposed development to the first left turn point of intersection to Cole Road and 4th Street.
“They recommended the county does that work, because they said the conditions existed prior to this potential development. So, they’re basically indicating that this development has no impact based on this study.”
Idom said when the study was conducted, surveyors took the counter down within a quarter of a mile from the study area and put up another counter.
“It’s been there ever since,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s still counting or not.”
Walker said he has his reservations about the study, particularly because it was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic for six hours on June 23.
“They made some adjustments based on some areas of known traffic further east on 4th Street and ended up making an adjustment of approximately 32 percent increase to their actual traffic count that they took,” he said. “I can’t say that that’s accurate; obviously it was done at a bad time for it to get the exact amount of traffic there.
“I don’t necessarily believe that the number of seven and 14 (additional trips) on Cole Road are exactly correct, so I can’t speak to the actual adequacy of the report. But they do have one that they have now presented.”
District 5 Supervisor Dale Lucus suggested that the traffic count be started over from the beginning and resubmitted.
“When they start asking us to do something that we have the right, and it’s in our site plan that we have the right for them to do upgrades, and we have asked for that,” he said. “And if they’re going to get my vote, they’re going to do the upgrades that we ask, and we ask for in our site plan. Otherwise, they can move on.”
County Administrator Jody Waits said the board feels that if Dollar General is to build on that location, that organization should be responsible for improving the road to handle the traffic, including turn lanes, overlay and what they’re going to damage.
“According to their study, it showed a negligible impact on the area,” he said. “The board sees some faults in what they presented and reasserted that to approve the site plan with Dollar General, Dollar General is going to have to take responsibility to make improvements to the road around the development.
“So, they’re going to get back with Dollar General and say, ‘Your site plan approval is contingent upon what we’ve asked for in our notes.’ That would be improving the road and making a turn lane.”