The Central Virginian

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Time will tell

Posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Governing bodies are responsible for making decisions based on what they think is best for the citizenry that they serve.  Some decisions are tougher than others. After doing the research, listening to public opinion and weighing the pros and cons, sometimes elected leaders still go against the grain of what the majority of constituents want.

In the case of the Mineral Town Council, four of the six council members voted on Tuesday night to allow Family Dollar to build an 8,320-square-foot store on 1.10 acre at the corner of Fifth Street and Mineral Avenue, despite vigorous opposition by town residents.  The project is estimated to cost $1.1 million.

Councilmen Roy “Snake” McGehee and Dr. William Thomas voted against because they think the store is too large.  However, Jack Maus, the town’s attorney, issued his legal opinion that the Mineral Town Council is well within its right to approve the larger square footage based upon the town’s zoning ordinance for light commercial projects.

For the most part, residents in the sleepy town of Mineral tend to quietly go about their own business and let town council do its job. It’s not often that an issue in Mineral generates such intense interest and strong public opinion.  So, when it does happen, it pays to listen.

Residents packed Mineral Town Hall Tuesday night to learn more about project, with many hoping for another opportunity to sway their elected officials to vote against the store.  However, it seems the time for public comment ended at the town’s July 16 meeting and council members’ primary discussion centered on the town’s zoning laws.

Some residents feel that the majority of town council didn’t care what they had to say about the matter from the beginning and that their minds were made up long before—with one claiming that he felt railroaded by the council.  A few support the project, happy to be able to walk to a store and shop in town.

In its infinite wisdom, we can only hope that the Mineral Town Council knows best about what is good for the citizenry in Mineral and that they made the right decision for those who live in town, pay the taxes and elect the leaders who are tasked to shape a better future for Mineral.

The tax revenues brought in by Family Dollar are expected benefit the town’s coffers, but could that revenue be offset by the loss of other businesses that may be injured by the town’s newest addition to the business community? Time will tell.

It’s safe to say that Mineral residents do want additional business in town, but would like council to be discerning in its choices.  Rather than a Family Dollar being built less than a mile down the street from the Dollar General, some would rather see a restaurant, drug store or higher-end retail option. These things could be well within reach in the near future.

Now that the decision has been made, we will just have to sit back, watch and see what effect Family Dollar will have on the town’s economy, whether businesses like Miller’s Market will be able to continue to thrive and whether the quality of life of neighboring residents will be impacted by the store’s noise, light and traffic and trash.

Or, if citizens feel strongly enough to pursue the battle, there could be more to the story in the future.

It will be interesting to see whether the council’s decision to go against the majority will create backlash from constituents at the polls during the next town election cycle.

Time will tell.