By Toby Tobin
At a special meeting on Jan. 14, the Palm Coast City Council rushed to pass an ordinance placing a 120-day moratorium on the approval of any new dollar format stores. The issue was first raised only seven days earlier by Mayor Milissa Holland during her January 7 regular meeting comments on items not on the agenda. “We have a lot of Dollar Generals popping up in our city and frankly, I find it a little disconcerting,” said Holland.
The great concern is reportedly driven by a deep-seated belief that dollar format stores can damage a community. “We’re not looking to stand in the way of business or progress,” Mayor Holland says, “but we need to ensure that everything built in Palm Coast is for the public good. There’s compelling evidence from other communities around the country that dollar stores have various long-term effects, and we should be sure we’re protecting our community.” Holland and the city attorney argue that dollar stores, which do not sell fresh produce, squeeze out local mom and pop stores that do, creating a virtual food desert.
Why the big hurry? Do we really have, as Mayor Holland says, “a lot of Dollar Generals popping up in our city…?” Not really. During all of 2019, there was only one building permit for a dollar store in Palm Coast, none in 2018, none in 2017 and only one in 2016. There are no new building permit applications for dollar stores in the pipeline.
The Dollar General at 1000 Matanzas Woods Pkwy permit was issued on August 28, 2019. The contractor stated value for construction was $762,447. The city received $77,779.70 in impact and permitting fees, exclusive of water and sewer connection charges.
The permit for the Dollar General at 20 Old Kings Road N was issued on May 4, 2016. The contractor stated value for construction was $779,887. The city received $79,829.60 in impact and permitting fees, exclusive of water and sewer connection charges. The property owner paid $15,043.60 for property taxes for the 2019 tax year.
Dollar Stores in Palm Coast
- Dollar Tree at 5200 E SR 100 (Palm Coast Landings)
- Dollar General, 11 Market Ave. (behind Belle Terre Publix)
- Dollar Tree at 140 Cypress Edge Dr
- Dollar General at 20 Old Kings Road N
- Dollar General at 500 Palm Coast Pkwy SW
- Dollar General at 1000 Matanzas Woods Pkwy (opening soon)
A food desert is defined as “an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.” Palm Coast is hardly an urban area. It’s a sprawling suburb. Belying the food desert argument, there are several major chain grocery stores within the city.
- Publix – 3 stores
- Winn Dixie – 2 stores
- Walmart SuperCenter – 1 store
- Aldi – 1 store with another in planning/permitting
Local Palm Coast grocery and produce options
- Fresh Produce Farmers Market
- Samsue Produce
- Russian Food
- Palm Coast Farms Market
- Far East Asian Market
- East Coast Market
- Latino Market
- Serpol of Florida
- Amigos Supermarket
- Richard’s Foodporium
- Millennium Grocery
- European Village Farmers Market
With only two dollar store permits issued in the city since mid-2016 and with no dollar store permits in the pipeline, it seems odd that there is such a rush to judgment, requiring a Special Meeting of the city council. Misusing terms like “food desert,” and making appeals to “the public good” are simply stalking horses. It turns out that the “compelling evidence from other communities around the country that dollar stores have various long-term effects” comes from only two municipalities (neither in Florida) that have passed ordinances to control further dollar store development.
I’m libertarian-minded. I don’t like our government deciding for me where I should or should not shop. When I shop at one of our local dollar stores, I find them invariably crowded. The free market is speaking loudly, apparently with little or no effect on competing food outlets.
Could it be that the dollar store war was not declared to save mom and pop fresh market grocers? Is that argument simply a stalking horse? The real objection is more likely the same kind of NIMBYism that protests apartment developments because apartments attract “those kinds of people.”
The Housing Element Section of Palm Coast’s Comprehensive Plan Says, “Citizens of all income levels shall have the opportunity to obtain quality housing at a reasonable cost.” It stands to reason that they should also have corresponding shopping opportunities.
Toby Tobin, a Palm Coast Realtor and real estate consultant, publishes GoToby.com, where this piece originally appeared.
Time for change.From Mayor on down.We all need to get at & vote.There are a lot of qualified people out there that know the needs of our community.
John Brady says
Can not agree more and that is why I’ll be on the ballot on August 18.On tomorrow’s agenda the Council will be approving high density housing and another item on the agenda is approval for 20M loan to increase sewer capacity due to increased population. Make sense?
But you can have convenience stores every few blocks ? As long as gasoline & lottery revenue happens I don’t see the problem, the unprofitable DG’s will fail and leave retail brick & mortar space for the next CBD, smartphone or whatever else rents the space for. The store fronts are tastefully done, so they aren’t run down eyesores. If they want to control the number of them, have some type of ordinance that is based upon population density per square mile of the same retail operations ?
Rich H. says
Let’s call a halt to very expensive Publix stores. There actually four (4) Publix stores and another one pending. Let’s call a halt to stupid decisions by the City Council. (Using that term generously.)
Whatever happened to the additional street lights? Oh wait! Hasn’t been a fatality lately.
Tina BC says
I shop at the DG at least once a week. It’s easier to get in and out more quickly and they carry name brands at lower prices.
I dont want to go to a big store if I just have to pick up some small essentials.
It’s crazy that they are focusing on this one thing. They were going to let walmart build another giant super center and we all know what happens to thier old buildings and the shop around them. They become downtrodden vacant and cause the smaller businesses around them to go under. I think the council and the mayor should worry about other more important matters than trying to hold back business development… which they have been doing for decades.
Percy's mother says
Must have been before your time here in Palm Coast.
Wal-Mart was originally housed in the Staples / Planet Fitness shopping center back in the 1980s.
THAT building (the one Wal-Mart vacated in the Staples / Planet Fitness shopping Center) now houses a Dunkin Donuts as well as as the Bealls Outlet store.
So your point about “their old buildings” (Wal-Mart’s) becoming downtrodden vacant and “cause the small businesses around them to go under” is a moot point.
Dollar General IS NOT a dollar store. DG sells a wide verity of products, most of them are non-food, at discount prices. Palm Coast has exactly two dollar stores and they are both Dollar Trees.
Big chain stores complained about them because of cheaper price
Apparently, so does our mayor (complain about them).
It’s a great subject, Toby. While we all share your views of not wanting government to decide where we shop, I believe the real problem here is wanting to see a larger variety of shopping for us all, not just discount stores. Having lived here for nearly 20 years, I leave Flagler County for over 50 percent of my shopping, going either to Ormond Beach or St. Augustine. I do that because after nearly 18 years of living here, we still don’t have the variety of shopping which the surrounding communities offer.
It is a matter of having more choices, which we do not have.
Mary Fusco says
Sorry Linda, I’ve been living here 20 years. What exactly would you have to buy that you don’t have already?
So the mayor is concerned the effects a dollar store will have on the character of Palm Coast, but not at all concerned what effects hundreds of apartments will have. I find that just a little ironic.
You all have a number of do nothing, spend happy, opinionated , pet project, bought agenda, Elected Officials who are the most hypocritical frankly that I’ve ever been exposed to. From the Commissioners to the Sheriff to Board of Ed. I find THAT disconcerting. Tears of joy when my exit is finalized. Good luck
Thanks for publishing this story. I find it interesting that our local mayor and political leaders are so far disconnected from the way the majority of us are forced to live because of sub par pay and lack of jobs that will allow parents to fund a healthy family life…….
Mary Fusco says
Qball, First of all, Dollar General stores are NOT cheap. They are mostly junk stores and sadly people shop there because they feel they are getting a “bargain”. As far as jobs and pay go, if you are looking for a high paying job, you are in the wrong place. Move on. What I would like to know is how do parents afford to patronize gas stations with convenience stores attached for a $5.00 cup of coffee and the multiple fast food places that keep popping up. Political leader are following the masses. Low income housing for people who can afford $5 for a cup of coffee and dinner at the local fast food place. Welcome to the new Palm Coast.
I do a lot of comparative shopping, and shop at different stores for what they offer savings on. Dollar General saves me money because it is closer than other stores – for me. I go there for specific things, not all.
If I need wrapping paper, toilet paper, shampoo, a quick stop for eggs- I go there. That is all they are intended for and it is convenient.
To completely trash them, and those who shop there is very narrow in perspective and not very community minded. Not everyone has the money or transportation to shop at the bigger names stores!
Percy's mother says
If you actually do the MATH when you browse the “dollar” stores, you’ll actually find they’re quite expensive for the amount of product you actually get.
The “dollar” stores primarily cater to the financially un-savvy consumer . . . the ones who think they’re getting a deal when in actuality they’re being fleeced due to being uneducated about costs versus unit pricing.
So financially strapped you HAVE TO shop at the “dollar” stores? You’ll continue to be financially strapped if you continue to patronize them.
The financially uneducated consumer is always being taken advantage of . . . which is why they never get anywhere in life.
Mary Fusco hit the nail on the head. But she’s financially educated obviously.
This “issue” is very odd especially with what Tobby says – “With only two dollar store permits issued in the city since mid-2016 and with no dollar store permits in the pipeline, it seems odd that there is such a rush to judgment,”. Maybe just maybe the city officials should be concerned NOT with what business are already here and NOT looking to add more of them BUT looking to attract some business that have many good paying jobs??
Really? How about bringing decent AFFORDABLE grocery stores for the hundreds of customers who cannot afford to shop at Publix stores, which saturate the city? If the mayor and city council were concerned about the citizens, they would welcome healthy competition and affordable shopping. Apparently they do not have to stretch every dime they have. Frankly, I am sick of having to hit 5 or 6 stores to get the best deals and driving to Ormond and other towns to get decent healthy foods. I shop at Dollar General on a regular basis because they offer the best prices on staples and I am able to quickly enter and exit and always find handicapped parking spaces. This whole NON-issue is ridiculous! Apparently they have nothing better to do with their time!
Percy's mother says
By driving all over kingdom come looking for a deal . . . even to Ormond and other surrounding towns, you end up spending more money than if you were to patronize Publix, which is convenient to almost everybody in Palm Coast because they “saturate” the city.
How about ALDI? If you drive to Ormond looking for a deal, you can certainly shop at ALDI, which actually has some of the best prices anywhere.
Dollar General is very expensive, and I would never shop there. If you think you’re getting a financial break by patronizing the Dollar General, I can see why you’re financially strapped.
Dirk Theriault says
….as compared to all the convenience stores at every gas station in the city? Is the good Mayor implying that Dollar stores bring in the riff raff? Golly…you don’t suppose she might be an elitist…
Thanks for the coverage on this, I happen to like dollar stores if I can get ice cream for $3.50 when the same is almost $7. in the grocery store, same applies to cereal, granola snacks, even dairy products, etc I will go to DG. We have gas stations all over the place many times nearly empty. I think our mayor needs to wake up and start paying attention to the things that really matter, not what for some reason she decided are not necessary.
Wherever their is large amount of population that is living with “lower” income there will be many of these Dollar type stores that appeal to the less fortunate with their cheap prices on goods, making it affordable to live for the less fortunate.
Palm Coast or almost anywhere in Florida matches this criteria considering Florida is the state , that people with little income come to live, considering how cheap it is to live here.
People like to live in Palm Coast or most places in Florida because the cheapness of the state make them feel as if they are living a richer life when in reality they are living in a region of the country that has some of the lowest incomes.
Most all food from Dollar General like stores come in a box or a can which obviously isn’t meant to be eaten everyday.
Percy's mother says
DOES EVERYTHING THESE DAYS HAVE TO REVOLVE AROUND BEING “INCLUSIVE”?
FRANKLY, I do not want to be “inclusive”.
If I choose to be “exclusive” what’s the problem with that? I’ve worked damn hard all my life, so why should I be “inclusive” for those who’ve chosen to do nothing with their lives?
Frankly, I don’t want to see a dollar store on every corner.
One of the keys to a successful and financially upwardly mobile life? GET FINANCIALLY EDUCATED PEOPLE. Then you won’t have to rely on “dollar” stores.
Billy C says
While the rest of us are getting “financially educated” you may want to read up on a little sociology. Unfortunately for you this is how societies are structure. When villages and towns grow you get more people living beside you who are not of your ilk. While I do not rely on dollar stores much I do use them for an occasional bargain item that I know is more expensive elsewhere. Having those stores available shouldn’t effect you if you don’t shop there. However, If you don’t want to seek inclusiveness where you live, perhaps you need to find somewhere else to live.
Mary Fusco says
Dollar stores, whether it is Dollar General or Dollar Tree are NOT cheap. However, everyone has to find that out for themselves. What I am more concerned about are gas stations, with convenience stores attached being built out of control. These places, plus the multiple fast food stores do nothing but attract trouble. These places never close, so trouble always has a place to go. What exactly is inclusive about these places? Convenience stores charge triple the cost of a regular supermarket. Fast food is what it is. I can’ afford it and I’m amazed at the amount of “low income” people that can. Maybe they should start cooking dinner in their kitchen. I’ll be doing that tonight. Enough is enough. PC doesn’t need any more junk stores, gas stations or fast food restaurants. I’ve been here 20 years and don’t feel I need to find any place else to live. What I would like to do is live safely.
Concerned Citizen says
Why do we need 3 or 4 of each store?
When you look around you see multiple McDonalds, 3 Wendy’s 4 Publix. With Gas stations you can’t throw a rock without hitting a Circle K. There are two soon to be 3 Racetracs. Two of those stores will be less than several miles from each other when it’s all said and done. And why? What purpose does it serve?
This town could use a lot more diversity. We just got a Texas Roadhouse and it’s in the most awkward place you could put a resteraunt. They must have been afraid it would do well. I give it a year at best and the novelty wears off.
I have a problem when our elected officials start targeting specific companies. I didn’t ask for you to represent me with the “not in my town attitude”. Our Mayor and City council are wasting to much time on minor issues when they should be focused on more important issues. Like upgrading infra structure to handle all this construction, road and swale maintenance, sidewalks and street lights etc. When you have all that addressed and moving forward then you can worry all you want about Dollar Stores in our area.
We have elections coming up soon everyone. Time to clean house and get rid of these long term empire builders. Let’s get fresh faces in their that have to answer to their constituents and not developers/special interests. To many office holders on the city/county level think they are irreplaceable.
When politicians create a problem where there is no problem that tells me that they are trying to cover something up by distraction. So what is it the Mayor is trying to hide?
Steve Vanne says
How about the six Publix supermarkets within a three mile radius of each other. And I hear there going to build another one on Matanzas and US 1 down the road. Just a thought….
Open your eyes says
The whole thing clearly shows rotten culture of local governance. Like the whole city is her backyard and one day she woke up and decided to impose moratorium on roses, you know too many roses planted on backyard already. It’s all up to her, nobody to consider. Utterly ridiculous mayor we have.
How about kicking all those lie filled “representatives ” and mayor out, all of them and create a system where each issue is being voted on by all residents through internet? Might be more efficient and less expensive.
Perhaps Mz Holland could get Tiffanis to move in so she would have a place to shop. How about Street lighting, marking road lanes so drivers don’t have head on collisions, free internet,can’t apply for a job or log into clerk of courts and not get arrested without it. Swales and timely garbage pickups. How about Solar and wind power for Palm Coast when FPL goes. Come on MAN get it together!
Just what is this 120 day moratorium supposed to accomplish? The answer is “NOTHING”. This answer is based on the recent construction records which lead one to believe that another application for a ‘dollar-type store’ will not be made for at least another year. So with that knowledge, our elected officials hurriedly meet to discuss a 4 month moratorium on these facilities. Hmm, was this done to placate a few local interests? So the council can say ‘look what we did’? And since the council has used the excuse of serving the public interest, what about all the new gas stations with attached convenience stores – certainly all the cigarettes, junk food and super-sized sugar drinks must be a public health issue? (Full disclosure: I eat Snickers by the box and drink straight Pepsi by the gallon, quit smoking over 20 years ago.)
Why do I see the ‘dollar-type’ stores winning any potential lawsuit brought against the city for this poorly thought out moratorium? Unabashed discrimination with a capital “D”. These stores currently meet all zoning requirements for retail uses. In order to implement this moratorium the zoning ordinance will have to be amended to establish a new building use. I am struggling with how to describe a ‘dollar-type” retail use in such a way as to limit it to the stores Melissa wants to prohibit and not include the oriental fruit and veggy places or an old style Ben Franklin 5 & 10.
When will we, the voter, get the quality of representation that the founding fathers envisioned? Representation by folks not interested in self-serving politics, not bowing to financial donors, and desirous of truly serving the public which they serve.
Do we need any more banks, real estate offices, gas stations, phone stores,nail salons, get the picture. Linda what kind of stores are you looking for?
@ Regulator: A greater variety. The Daytona Outlets and St. Augustine have some good shopping. How about a Pier One? Maybe a Chicos. Have you been out to eat on a busy Friday night? We could also use more restaurants. We’re getting there, but I think we need a much broader range.
Convienience Seeker says
I love the Dollar General! I am lucky to have one by work and one close to my house WITH EASY IN AND OUT PARKING! The staff at both stores are great, very friendly and upbeat, with classic Eighties music piped in its a great atmosphere. Often I only need a gallon of milk, or something frozen and quick to make for dinner. If I need to go to Walmart or Publix, I cringe just dreading the hot mess of a parking lot design so typical of Palm Coast. Really one feels like a rat in a maze with all the unnecessary curbs, landscaping and do not enter, no left turn BS, Like if the Sherrifs office wanted to make a few extra thousand per day just plant a cop in the Steak and Shake and bust guys like me who absolutely knowing break the law as we refuse to make a right out of wall mart when I need to go left.
“There are no new building permit applications for dollar stores in the pipeline.” So is a 120 day moratorium really a War on Dollar Stores? Seems a little dramatic.
How about affordable apartments so young families can live where they work
Where are all these “Mom & Pop” stores they want to protect? Need to have a moratorium on Mattress stores and banks.
Dissapointed in Palm Coast says
I wonder what the good folks at Dollar General did to piss off the Mayor. Maybe they refused to sponsor her “Hackathon” or agree to sponsor some other stupid pet project. City Council sure has lost touch with this community… I am beyond disheartened by what’s happening in City Hall. From questionable hirings, to out of control spending on pet projects, and now this – a moratorium on business. Shameful. I completely understood back when there was a moratorium on those gambling places… or on marijuana stores… because of potential litigation issues… but this? What – so folks living in the north end of Palm Coast MUST drive down to an already congested Palm Coast Parkway just to go to Dollar General. Crazy. I remember when the 2nd, 3rd (and soon to be 4th) Publix was opened (not to mention the 2 just outside our city limits). Everyone was thrilled to not have to go across town to shop. Maybe we all should be re-thinking who we vote for come November. Remember that 80’s movie – Brewsters Millions… vote None of the Above. Maybe that would be a good start.
I couldn’t agree with you more. Palm Coast has also lacked the vision to attract high-wage jobs. This city thrives on low-paying service jobs (other than government-related jobs).
I the Person says
Why does the government feel the need to interject itself into something capitolism and freedom of commerce will so clearly define the parameters for? If there are no buyers, there will be no Dollar Generals. Same for Walmart, Winn Dixie, etc. etc. If the local market warrants it, then DG will certainly build and expand just like any other convenience store, be it WaWa, 7-11, whatever. DG is a publicly traded 25 billion dollar corporation and will do what’s in the best interest of it’s shareholders.
What the government needs to be wary and careful of is doing something stupid like denying a DG permit to buy and build, then turning around and granting to someone else such as WaWa. That’s a recipe for massive suit for violating constitutional Freedom of Interstate Commerce laws. We the People don’t need someone as narrow minded, pompous, racist, inexperienced and naive as Holland edicting to the rest of us what “kind” of retail should exist in Palm Coast. She might want to stay focused on her playgrounds and let the actual intelligent adults in the community ensure Palm Coast’s long-term growth, success and viability.
As of right now, there are many portions of Palm Coast proper where it is literally 5+ miles to the nearest convenience store. Palm Coast is quite spread out geographically. Dollar General stores don’t bring in derelicts as Holland’s “moratorium” would suggest – they’re nothing more than representations of what is already there. Palm Coast is predominantly caucatian retirees or semi-retirees. That’s not changing because of a Dollar General store. God forbid black or brown people should come out of the woodwork because of that new Dollar General huh?! Because behind all this minutiae that is what Holland is REALLY implying.
Accepted is that there will always be an odd bod in every group.
What is not accepted is that there are blind followers of this odd bod.
Enough to approve the moratorium.
After listening to the audio recording of the agenda item there was no votes opposed. One person is out in left field and all of the rest blindly follow.
This sounds a lot like the current Washington DC national politicians.
In software development one goal is to build idiot proof software.
The problem is that the world keeps building a better idiot.
Check It says
This is a legit article I saved, and unfortunately it’s true.
“Dollar Stores Are Targeting Struggling Urban Neighborhoods and Small Towns.”
David Schaefer says
Palm Coast has gone down hill hopefully moving to the Ga mountains …..
Steve Vanne says
I’m with u David..
Gary R says
@David Schaefer – I’m with you. This town has become way overcrowded. Time to move to North Carolina mountains.
CB from PC says
I agree with the criticism of the Mayor questioning DG stores expansion while pushing low-income Section 8 housing.
How about some of those complexes be built in the Mayor’s development.
Why all the controversy?
DG and Dollar Tree are filling a niche.
Publix is way overpriced.
Wal-Mart having what you specifically want is usually a crap shoot.
Aldi has a lot of brands that I have bought once and been glad when they are used.
What we really need here are Detweilers, Weis or Rednors Markets.
Closest Detweilers though is in Palmetto, FL.
Ironically, thriving in a long abandoned Winn-Dixie Center.
John Brady says
How about a Wegman’s