The biggest city in Volusia County may put limits on the numbers and locations of low-end retail outlets.
Convinced Deltona has plenty of dollar stores — general merchandisers that tout low prices for personal and household staples — city officials are considering new regulations on how many to allow and where they may be built, as well as whether to require them to sell fresh fruit and vegetables.
“A dollar store is not all that good for the community,” City Commissioner Loren King said, adding he would favor some restrictions on what he called “small-box stores.”
Three nationally known small-box retail chains do business in Deltona: Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar.
The controversy over the seeming growth of the dollar stores surfaced when the City Commission received a request to replat a 10-acre parcel in northeast Deltona for the construction of a Dollar General store. The specific location of the parcel is on the northwest corner of Catalina Boulevard and Lake Helen Osteen Road. King expressed dismay over the request.
“The citizens are tired of dollar stores,” he said. “This will make the 11th one in the city. Five of them are within 2 miles of my house. We are flooding the area with these dollar stores.”
The proliferation of low-end merchandisers in a city or in an area, King added, may be a deterrent to other retailers, such as supermarket chains and department stores with big-name products.
“These types of small-box stores are a hindrance to all other stores,” he argued. “How is this city helping our residents?”
King also questioned why commercial development would be permitted in an area where there is no sewer service available.
“We’re going to allow another store to come, and they’re going to have a septic tank,” he added.
A memorandum from the city’s planning staff noted a site will be dedicated on the proposed replatted parcel for a lift station, with the anticipation of “the eventual extension of sewer needed to serve … property in the area.”
City Attorney Marsha Segal-George said the commission should perhaps make sewer service a prerequisite for businesses.
“We could look at something that says no commercial could come in without having sewer,” she suggested.
Segal-George also said Palm Coast is considering regulations for dollar stores, including a requirement that there be distance between such businesses to prevent a clustering of them.
Deltona, she noted, may wish to enact a similar type of restriction.
In response to critics who say the dollar stores may contribute to a “food desert” — a term used to describe the lack of convenient places to buy fresh vegetables and fruit — Segal-George suggested the city may wish to mandate stores stock produce, along with canned and dry food items.
Whatever Deltona may do regarding the dollar stores within its boundaries, City Commissioner Robert McFall urged his fellow officials to “make sure it does not hinder property rights.”
The City Commission asked city staff for more information on its regulatory options for the businesses at its next regular meeting, set for May 18.
If Deltona is seeing a growth in dollar stores, Mayor Heidi Herzberg believes she knows why.
“They’re making money,” she said.
One of the city’s grassroots leaders says she personally favors some restrictions on such stores.
“The preservation of land in the area is really important. While I believe in people making money and capitalism, I think we have enough dollar stores in Deltona,” Dana McCool, a founding member of Deltona Strong, a grassroots citizens group in the city, told The Beacon. “Enough is enough.”
McCool clarified her opinion was her own, however, and not as a leader of Deltona Strong.