At the beginning of the Town of Norwood’s monthly meeting, held on July 10, Mayor Kieffer Parrino made an announcement before the public comment regarding the possibility of a Dollar General store being established in Norwood.
The mayor figured that some citizens had come to last week’s meeting to express their feelings on the store. Parrino asked the public to “be respectful of board time” and to “try not to be repetitive.”
Parrino said town officials had already met with Vaquero Ventures, the company looking at potentially opening the Dollar General on a main street commercial property. He said at this point, there is no sale or project. He said if Vaquero Ventures moved forward with the decision to establish their store, a public meeting would be held.
Jenny Russell, who is opposed to the construction of the store in Norwood, gave trustees informational packets containing studies she said show that Dollar General stores drive out existing businesses.
Russell said the town board should work with the Planning Commission to revise regulations in order to control future development. She asked the board to place a moratorium on all development until the regulations have been upgraded.
“What do we want this community to look like?” she asked trustees.
April Montgomery also brought articles that aim to show that Dollar General is targeting small, rural towns and in the past has contributed to the closing of small-town grocery stores. She said permitting the Dollar General was like an “overnight gimmick” that would not boost economic development.
“Let’s create a community where people want to come and businesses want to come,” she said.
Mike Grafmyer said he disagreed with comments opposed to Dollar General and he would support the store.
“I don’t think it would hurt Norwood,” he said.
According to him, main street businesses are overloaded with taxes, and the town has empty storefront spaces available.
“I think Norwood needs tax dollars,” he added. “We have to pay for the library, school taxes and other things.”
Kristen Parrino, a teacher, said her family can barely afford groceries at Clark’s Market in Norwood. She said while she wouldn’t buy everything at the new Dollar General store, she said it’s important for people to realize that many families are “really strapped.” She said low-income families, especially, who may be on government assistance may benefit from the possibility of the new store, too.
“Didn’t we go over this a few years back?” Marilyn Allen asked trustees. “Nobody wanted it.”
John Herndon, though he is in opposition to the store, said the board should look at ways other mountain towns have dealt with corporate businesses. He said building codes could help with aesthetics in trying to retain small-town charm if the store comes in.
Leila Seraphin said she worried the Dollar General, because it sells low-end cleaning supplies and toilet paper, would harm Ace Hardware.
“I don’t want to stress the businesses we have here,” she said. “It’s important to prioritize local culture and family-owned businesses. … I moved here to get away from that stuff.”
At the end of the 30-minute public comment session, trustee Candy Meehan said she’d like to see a study that looked at data in Ridgway and Naturita regarding how Dollar General impacted taxes and small businesses.
New trustee Janie Schulz said she’d like to survey small business owners in Norwood to see how owners felt about the issue.
“We will let public know when (the property) sells —if it sells,” the mayor told those in attendance. “We’ve been through this before.”