Dollar General department stores, based in Tennessee, has asked Lincoln County for permission to build another one of their thousands of stores across the country in Otis. It would be like their others. A spokesman for Dollar General says the location neatly reflects the location philosophy of their chain in that Otis is a rural community – a community that usually welcomes economic development.
But Lincoln County Planning Director Onno Husing, in his report to the county planning commission, maintains that Oregon land use laws strongly assert that large commercial buildings should be built inside cities while smaller buildings should be situated in rural areas. Under Oregon law, Husing says the maximum size for such a building in Otis is limited to 4,000 square feet – not the 9,100 square feet proposed by Dollar General.
Husing also cites other provisions of Oregon law that basically says that if such a large building can be built within a nearby city, it should be constructed there. These and other considerations raised by Husing, as reflected in Oregon law, were not addressed by Dollar General representatives, according to Husing in his report to the county planning commission.
To complicate matters even further for Dollar General, the building site is close to a very environmentally sensitive area which includes grazing pastures, the Salmon River Estuary, the Cascade Head Scenic Research Area and lands designated as Timber Conservation. The acknowledged sensitive nature of those natural resources were included in the language that designated some of these very nearby locations as environmentally valuable by the the federal government.
Husing offered numerous observations to Dollar General representatives as to them more appropriately locating their new store, if not inside the Lincoln City city limits, then at least inside the city’s urban growth boundary which is just a few miles away. However, Dollar General reportedly has already leased the proposed building site from an Otis land owner.
A public hearing is set for 7:30pm this evening at a meeting of the Lincoln County Planning Commission at the county courthouse at 225 West Olive in Newport. If planning commissioners turns thumbs-down on the project, Dollar General could appeal that decision to the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners and ultimately to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals in Salem.