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Germantown Dollar Tree protestors fail to push zoning board vote

Protesters flocked to a recent Zoning Board of Adjustments meeting in Germantown to show displeasure for the proposed placement of a Dollar Tree store in the shopping center at Chelten Plaza. The board is considering whether to revoke the store's construction permit, which Dollar Tree opponents say was granted under false pretenses.

The zoning board meeting was attended by Germantown residents who are opposed to opening a Dollar Tree in the shopping center. Their legal representative argued that Dollar Tree purposely altered its permit application to label itself a grocery store instead of a variety store.

The land use issue is complicated by the location of Chelten Plaza, located in a Special District Controls area of Germantown where variety or general merchandise stores are prohibited. Opponents of adding Dollar Tree to the shopping center say the shop is a discount variety store that sells a few groceries, not a grocery store than offers some variety items.

Representatives for Dollar Tree at the zoning meeting testified that the store is classified as a grocery store by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dollar Tree's proponents admitted the store is more of an alternative grocery outlet than a regular supermarket.

A city code official testified that the construction permit application, submitted in March, was altered repeatedly without mentioning the intended use of the store. A June-issued permit listed Dollar Tree as a "retail grocery store."

Some vocal members of the zoning board's audience called the acceptance of the Dollar Tree's construction a political move. Permit opponents said the community was cheated out of attracting higher quality commercial establishments.

The zoning board tabled the issue without setting a date for any decision on the Dollar Tree permit.

Source: NewsWorks, "Sharp argument, but no vote at Chelten Plaza zoning hearing," Amy Z. Quinn, Sept. 28, 2011

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