ACTON — More than five years after the community rejected a similar project, most Acton residents say they do not want a Dollar General store in their rural community.
Dozens of residents turned out for an Acton Town Council “protest” meeting Monday evening at Acton Park to discuss the proposed Dollar General project and other issues of concern to residents.
The Town Council received more than 150 comments from residents on the proposed Dollar General project. All but two of them expressed strident opposition to the project, according to a letter from the Town Council sent to LA County Regional Planning Director Amy Bodek.
The proposed project site, at the northeast corner of Smith Avenue and Crown Valley Road, is in downtown Acton. That is across the street from the locally owned and operated Acton Market Country Store and The Original Acton Market.
Residents expressed concerns about the impact to local businesses. They also expressed concerns about traffic impacts and the possibility of traffic impacts that could require a traffic signal.
One resident expressed concern about safety based on reports that Dollar General and similar stores are magnets for crime. According to The Gun Violence Archive, more than 200 violent incidents involving guns at Family Dollar or Dollar General stores have occurred since the start of 2017, and nearly 50 of them resulted in death.
In addition, NBC News reported that, between January 2019 and January 2020, 27 workers and five customers were injured during violent robberies at Dollar General stores across the country.
Corresponding secretary Jacki Ayer said the proposed project is a “ministerial development,” which means it almost a done deal as long as it meets all of the requirements for trails and signage outlined in the Acton Community Standards District.
Carl Wood and David Church of San Diego-based NNN Retail Development attended the meeting to introduce themselves and answer questions about the proposed project.
Church explained that Dollar General has its own research department that analyzes where they think one of their stores can be successful. The company then relies on developers like NNN Retail Development to make it happen.
“Probably 70-80% of what we do are what I’ll call smaller towns similar to Acton,” Church said.
Dollar General typically looks for communities with populations of 2,000 to 10,000 people.
“Do you really want to put this Dollar General right across the corner from two other markets? That’s profitable,” one man said.
“Make it clear, we don’t want you here. Sorry,” one woman said.
Church said there are some communities where they are welcomed and others where they come up against the same resistance.
“We don’t have anything to do with why they want to be here, but it is my job to try to build a store,” Church said.
Church added his job is to do the best he can to build a store that co-exists as best it can with the community.
“Thank you for coming; I appreciate that you came,” resident Patty Akkad said. “But did you go into the little town of Acton? Have you seen our 100-year-old church, have you seen everything that’s western and the quietness? This is what concerns me is that a Dollar General will change the whole complex, the whole set up of the town.”
Akkad added the Dollar General in Littlerock is an eyesore.
“I understand that you guys are in business,” Akkad said. “I understand that you want to develop. But please, please, please, elsewhere.”
Heather Hannoun, who owns the Acton Market, said the proposed Dollar General would hurt her business “big time.”
“Everything I own is in that store,” Hannoun said.
Hannoun said her store also sells general merchandise that the Dollar General would sell.
“It’s our livelihood,” Hannoun said, adding she sponsors local children and events.
A near 40-year Acton resident asked those who oppose the proposed project not to use a collective noun when they said they don’t want the Dollar General in their town.
“Don’t say ‘we’; you should say ‘I.’ I don’t mind the store being here,” he said.
A resident said the community would support a project that would benefit the community and not harm local businesses.
Other concerns highlighted in the Town Council’s letter included design issues with the proposed project, which does not align with the Acton Community Standards District architectural requirements.
Residents are also concerned about the bright lights the typical Dollar General development create.