Dollar General began construction this week on its 13,400th store, or so, on the corner of Oakland Road and US 522 in southern Morgan County, ten miles south of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
There already is a Dollar General in Berkeley Springs.
And another one in Paw Paw.
And putting one ten miles south of Berkeley Springs seems to fit Dollar General’s growth model — one store every ten miles across America.
The Dollar General store in southern Morgan County was controversial and opposed by a group of citizens who argued it was poorly placed — in a residential neighborhood, across Oakland Road from a rural church and across 522 from Cacapon State Park.
These citizens said that it should be put a few miles further south in the 522 Business Park, where it wouldn’t be as disruptive.
The citizens organized, wrote letters to the editor, pressured their elected representatives, and sent postcards to the CEO of Dollar General, Todd Vasos — imploring him — Don’t Mess with Rural West Virginia.
The citizens group also took the Morgan County Planning Commission to court over the Commission’s decision to approve the location.
But last year, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled against the citizens.
Another group of citizens petitioned for the store, saying they didn’t want to drive ten miles to Berkeley Springs to shop.
One woman who lives nearby, when asked why she was excited to have the Dollar General in the neighborhood, said — “Well, I can now ride my bike to get my tampons.”
She said it sort of in jest, but there is was a grain of truth to it.
People want convenience.
The closer the better.
Damn the consequences.
A couple of years ago, Morgan County voted four to one against zoning.
Those against zoning argued that there should be no public control over what someone wants to do with their property.
If the out of state millionaire who owned the property at the corner of Oakland Road and US 522 wanted to sell to Dollar General, who are we as a community to say no?
That too seems to be the viewpoint of the powers that be in Morgan County — from the Planning Commission to our County Commissioners — Bob Ford, Joel Tuttle and Ken Reed — to our Delegates Daryl Cowles and Saira Blair and State Senators Charles Trump and Craig Blair — to our Congressman Alex Mooney and our US Senators — Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.
They all pray at the altar of the corporate dollar.
And Dollar General is right in their sweet spot.
So is TransCanada.
Dollar General across from a church and Cacapon State Park and in a residential neighborhood?
TransCanada pipeline under the Potomac River and C&O Canal, pumping fracked gas into a Mountaineer Gas pipeline that cuts through family farms and then into Berkeley County with no apparent benefit for Morgan County?
If it was up to Morgan County Commission President Bob Ford, he’d make Morgan County look like his hometown — Hagerstown, Maryland.
Except for the strip clubs.
What if, hypothetically, the owners of the Dollar General lot wanted to put a strip club across from the church?
Ford said they couldn’t because of an adult entertainment ordinance that was passed when he was Commissioner more than ten years ago now.
Ford supported the ordinance.
Isn’t that zoning?
You are telling a private owner that they cannot build a strip club there, right?
“In a particular case, where something is that in your face, that deals with morality issues, issues that are different than the average issue, I felt comfortable supporting it,” Ford said.
Ford approves of the state telling an owner of private property that they can’t put a strip club up on their own property?
“Yes,” Ford said.
But Dollar General?
No morality issues there.