Plans to build a Dollar General store off Highway 87 in Pine have been scrapped after Southwest General Development Managing Partner Beau Woodring withdrew his request to rezone the property.
Woodring apparently had second thoughts about building the store after listening to residents voice their opposition during a Gila County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday in Pine.
“He realized we don’t want a dollar store in Pine,” said Christy Powers, a longtime Pine resident.
A standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 turned out for the meeting held in the cultural center.
The property is currently zoned both residential and transitional residential, but Woodring wanted to rezone the property to commercial.
Throughout the meeting, one adamant audience member after another said they didn’t want a dollar store in the tiny mountain hamlet.
In fact, some said they would boycott any such store.
Almost all residents who spoke said they opposed allowing any “big box” or “chain” store in Pine.
Ric Hawthorne told the commission, “We don’t need any more empty buildings” apparently referring to the now vacant Dollar General store in Payson that closed after just two years and some vacancies in Pine.
Others expressed concern such a store at the southern entrance of Pine would clash with the small-town image of Pine.
Each time a resident spoke against the store and rezoning, the audience loudly applauded.
Chris Walsh of the Rim Country Business Coalition asked the commission to reject the rezoning and impose a six-month moratorium on the proposal.
Later in the meeting, Walsh gave the board a petition signed by 504 Pine and Strawberry residents asking the county to deny the rezoning request.
After Woodring withdrew his request, Walsh lauded the move, “That was the smart thing to do, he showed respect to the community.
“This thing could have dragged out.”
Powers praised those who had opposed the rezoning saying, “It was a rather wonderful testament to the desire of the residents here to keep our little community as it is.”
The planning and zoning commission two months ago recommended approval of the rezoning with several stipulations.
When word the commission had recommended approval circulated through Pine and Strawberry, residents showed up June 3 at a Gila County Board of Supervisors meeting with a barrage of complaints.
Those objections convinced the supervisors to delay action on the rezoning request and hold Wednesday’s public hearing.