Family Dollar wins OK, despite outcry

A group of Ridgway residents protest in front of the Family Dollar store in Montrose in June.

RIDGWAY — Despite hundreds of signatures on a petition, emails and letters protesting a Family Dollar store’s bid to open a store in Ridgway, the national retail chain received approval from the town to build an 8,000-square-foot store.

Family Dollar submitted plans in April to build the store in a vacant lot between the Subway restaurant and a local hotel on the east side of U.S. Highway 550. The store’s plans are in accordance with local building codes and were approved, and a building permit was issued to the company. As of Thursday afternoon, the permit had not been picked up at town hall, according to Ridgway Town Manager Jen Coates.

“It is ready for them to pick up here. All they have to do is pay the permit fee,” Coates said.

Upon discovering the plans, many Ridgway residents formed the group Citizens to Preserve Ridgway, which started a petition drive that has amassed 750 signatures. The town’s population is nearly 900 residents.

One supporter of the store, who wished to remain anonymous because he fears retribution, said Family Dollar will bring essential jobs to town and benefit the local economy.

Citizens to Preserve Ridgway organizer Vicci Spencer acknowledges little can be done to prevent Family Dollar from building the store, but she and fellow citizens hope the store will decide to pull out in response to the group’s petition.

“We’re hoping at some point Family Dollar will acknowledge how much the residents of Ridgway don’t want them here, and we hope they will make an ethical and responsible decision to respect our wishes,” Spencer said.

Spencer said she moved to Ridgway seven years ago to escape large-scale development and big-box retailers. She said she and the rest of her group believe Ridgway has prospered on the “locals doing business with locals” mentality that has kept much of Ridgway residents’ spending within the town.

Spencer said Citizens to Preserve Ridgway will continue its protest of Family Dollar in the coming weeks.

Family Dollar operates 6,800 stores in 44 states. Calls to its North Carolina corporate headquarters were not returned Thursday afternoon.

A proposal to open a Dollar General store in Palisade met a similar citizen uprising earlier this year. The national discount retailer decided in May not to build on a site north of downtown, although company officials said opposition from a citizens’ group didn’t play a factor in their decision.


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