MIAMI — A discussion was held at the regular meeting of the Ottawa County commissioners Monday morning about a petition submitted by local residents who are against the new Dollar General store being built on Highway 125 and E Street SW.
Kelly Shepherd and other concerned District 3 residents in Miami say their goal is to halt the construction of the store because of the negative effects it will have on their community.
Shepherd said via phone during the meeting that the community in the southwest part of town is against it.
“Not only due to the floodplain, but also because of the traffic, trash, and ‘tweakers’ — the people it’s going to bring to the community,” Shepherd said. “It’s going to put us not in a good place. We don’t feel it’s going to be a safe environment any more if this goes through. We are not opposed to having something in the southwest part of town, but maybe more to the east or west and not right in our community. We are not happy at all.
“When we came to you in November, everyone seemed to act like they didn’t know what was going to go on. We want it stopped if at all possible.”
District 3 commissioner Russell Earls reported that the company developing the store has reached out to Chad Holcombe, county Emergency Management Director, regarding what is necessary for them to build in the floodplain.
“We are monitoring the situation and watching closely to make sure they are following floodplain requirements, but we can’t tell them they can’t build. We will make sure they are building within our guidelines, but I’m not sure what else we can do to help you,” Earls said.
District 1 commissioner Mike Furnas agreed, saying, “Our hands are tied.”
Shepherd replied, “Maybe you need to look into a planning and zoning committee for the county.” to which Earls noted, “We address that every year with the Farm Bureau, but nobody really wants to do anything until it affects them. It’s not something that can be passed willy-nilly, but maybe now is the time we start talking (about it). We will do everything we can.”
“I understand, but Mr. Earls we needed you to know how unhappy we are with the situation,” Shepherd concluded.
In other matters, a discussion was held with Bill Turner, CPA and county excise board member, regarding the finalization of the budget for fiscal year 2020-2021. Fiscal year 2019-2020 ended June 30.
When asked where the budget stands by commission chairman Chad Masterson, Turner said he had found changes that need to be made, but that the county, as it has in the past, can approve the estimate of needs portion for each department and move forward from there.
Earls said, “What we’ve done in the past is set the budget and if there are needs throughout the year we can always look at it and go back and make changes, if necessary, while we wait to see how COVID-19 is going to affect our sales tax (revenue).”
Excise board chairman Larry Gatewood said that every department has funds they can use for discretionary purposes in their realm of authority if necessary.
“After everything we’ve been through, it’s a blessing that we are where we are and we could have $700,000 to $750,000 in our reserves, depending on what happens with the sales tax,” Earls said.
After further discussion, the budget was approved as specified.