The tiny town of Cormorant Village has a message for Dollar General: You’re not welcome here.
The Village Board unanimously opposed Dollar General’s recent petition to the Becker County Board that would allow it to build a store on a 5-acre strip of agricultural land atop a rise along County Hwy. 5 about 20 miles southwest of Detroit Lakes.
“It’s got a lot of people wound up,” said Steve Sorenson, chairman of the Village Board.
Well, not a lot of people.
Cormorant Village is about a quarter-mile long and has a half-dozen homes, a store and a gas station. The town’s mayor was a Great Pyrenees named Duke, until he retired in July due to old age. Just 11 people live there in the summer; eight in the winter, Sorenson said.
Which is why he can’t understand why Tennessee-based Dollar General wants to build another store in the area. The company has stores in Pelican Rapids, which is 16 miles south of Cormorant Village; Lake Park, which is 17 miles north; and Hawley, which is 22 miles northwest. It has dozens of stores in Minnesota.
Dollar General did not respond to a request for comment. The land the company wants to develop is alongside a road with a 55 mph speed limit. It abuts a wildlife management area and a wetland lies across the road.
“It’s just not a good fit for us,” Sorenson said. “The businesses that are in the area are little mom-and-pop stores that they all work at themselves.”
Kyle Vareberg, Becker County planning and zoning director, said his staff doesn’t take a position on zoning issues but provides the board with facts for its consideration. While the parcel Dollar General wants to develop is zoned for agriculture, he said, land to the northwest is zoned commercial. To be fair, he said, the area has a mix of agriculture, commercial and residential properties.
The county Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of Dollar General’s conditional use permit over the objections of Barry Nelson, a county commissioner who represents Cormorant. The Becker County Board voted Oct. 16 to approve the permit with conditions, then tabled it until next month to resolve some discrepancies in the planning commission’s minutes.
“We’re hopeful they’ll turn it down,” Sorenson said, “but we’ll know in a couple of weeks.”