Also: City to consider impact fee increase, e-cigarette restrictions.
Does Palm Coast have too many dollar stores? Palm Coast’s mayor is concerned that it might, and the City Council voted 5-0 on Jan. 14 to place a 120-day moratorium on discount “small box stores.”
The moratorium is 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. The city has three existing Dollar General stores plus one that is planned for the Matanzas Woods area; and two Dollar Tree stores.
“We need a tool to maintain the status quo …. so if damage is being done, there isn’t any additional damage,” City Attorney Bill Reischmann told council members at the meeting.
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.
“We need a tool to maintain the status quo ... so if damage is being done, there isn’t any additional damage.”
—BILL REISCHMANN, Palm Coast city attorney
Resichmann replied he’d look into it, and said he was aware of two communities in other states that don’t allow dollar stores, on the basis that they pose a danger to small mom-and-pop supermarkets.
He warned at the Jan. 14 meeting that the city will need to be able to justify its decision in the event of a legal challenge. Councilman Eddie Branquinho asked him about the case law on bans on dollar stores, and Reischmann said he’d seen the courts go both ways, upholding some bans but striking down others.
The moratorium bars 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 cites the possibility of dollar stores contributing to food deserts as a reason for the moratorium.
Resident Phyllis Robbins-Scheffler warned the council that some residents rely on dollar stores.
“It is not an affluent community, except for sections,” she said. “... So take into consideration all the population here in Palm Coast, not just the few or the smaller percentage that can afford to pay more.”