Douglasville City Council on Monday unanimously approved a 90-day moratorium on small discount store applications while conducting studies into the matter.
The small discount stores Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar are the biggest brands in the United States.
The stores have a combined total of 20 locations in the county and five stores within the Douglasville city limits.
The measure passed without any comment or debate among council members.
“I’m a little surprised there wasn’t any further comment,” Councilman Mark Adams said ahead of the vote.
The moratorium would expire on June 13, but will exclude any ongoing projects that include a discount store.
According to the resolution adopted, current discount stores will not be affected.
The resolution defined small-box discount stores as retail stores that sell discounted convenience items, most for $10 or less. Such a store would be 12,000 square feet or less and would not include a pharmacy or gas pumps, effectively exempting convenience stores and large drugstore chains.
Prior to Monday’s meeting, Mayor Rochelle Robinson received a two-page letter from Dollar General executives opposing the moratorium.
“We are writing to express our position against a proposed moratorium on small discount retailers,” Steve Brophy, vice president of government affairs, wrote in a letter to the mayor. “We believe this action would undermine consumer choice and limit free enterprise, and we are disappointed that the City is seeking to limit our ability to serve your community.
“We believe that targeted efforts to prohibit our ability to open future stores and provide residents with an affordable and convenient retail option are not in the best interest of the city and are actually hurting residents who rely on us to make ends meet and balance their budgets. ”
According to the letter, Dollar General opened its first store in Douglasville in 1996.
While drafting the resolution, the council discovered that other cities and counties in the state had passed small-box store ordinances. Stonecrest in DeKalb County and Stockbridge in Henry County have similar ordinances.
DeKalb County also imposed a moratorium on new stores while studying their effects, according to documents related to the resolution.
Brophy called the consideration of a moratorium “puzzling” given the current pandemic when supplies were in demand.
“Our stores continue to play an important and important role for customers looking for a convenient option to shop for essentials, which has become more evident than ever during the recent (and ongoing) pandemic,” Brophy wrote. “During this time of national crisis, our customers – your constituents – have relied on Dollar General to stay open and provide them with the items they need at an affordable price.
“We and our employees take this service responsibility very seriously, and we are proud to have remained open for our customers during these uncertain times. Our customer is at the center of everything we do, and we make decisions about store location and product assortments based on the needs and wants of our customers.”