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Palm Coast Monday, Jan. 13, 2020 4 months ago

Does Palm Coast have too many dollar stores? City considers moratorium

Mayor Milissa Holland has expressed concern about the stores contributing to 'food deserts.'
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Does Palm Coast have too many dollar stores? Palm Coast's mayor is concerned that it might, and has proposed that the city institute a moratorium on adding new ones.

The City Council will consider a 120-day moratorium on discount "small box stores" during a special meeting the morning of Jan. 14. The 120-day moratorium would be a stopgap measure designed to prevent more dollar stores from being approved while the city considers more longterm options for regulating them. Dollar stores that are already in the city would not be affected.

Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland first raised the matter during a Jan. 7 City Council meeting, asking City Attorney Bill Reischmann if the city would be able to create a policy to ban the stores.

“We have a lot of Dollar Generals popping up in our city, and frankly I find it a little disconcerting,” she said during the meeting.

Resichmann replied he'd look into it, and said he was aware of two communities — one in Texas, the other in Illinois — that don't allow dollar stores, on the basis that they pose a danger to small mom-and-pop supermarkets. He warned that crafting a policy banning the stores without proper justification could violate constitutional protections for interstate commerce. 

The proposed resolution that the council will discuss Jan. 14 would implement an immediate moratorium on the issuance of business tax receipts, building permits or development orders for dollar stores while the city drafts potential legislation on them. 

The resolution's language states that "the character and development pattern of the City of Palm Coast could be significantly and adversely altered by the approval of small box discount stores," and adds that "These stores have been proliferating throughout the City, and may contribute to“food deserts” in some areas."

"Food deserts" are areas lacking easily accessible sources of nutritious food, such as vegetables, fruits and fresh deli meats. The USDA's definition of a food desert specifies that they are areas that are low-income (with a poverty rate of at least 20%) and where at least 500 people or 33% of the population live more than a mile from a supermarket (or, in rural areas, 10 miles).

The proposed City Council resolution establishing a moratorium can be viewed here.


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