Zoning change approved for Dollar General

OKEECHOBEE — A change in zoning to allow a Dollar General store just north of Okeechobee High School was approved at the Okeechobee County Commission Aug. 23 meeting in the Historic Okeechobee County Courthouse.

“The property is a little under 3 acres, on the east side of U.S. 441, north of Okeechobee High School, Planning Director Bill Royce told the commissioners. The applicant has also applied for a special exception to sell wine.

Although it is next to the high school property, it does mean the criteria for the separation of school from a business selling alcohol, said Mr. Royce.

“I know based on it meeting the criteria for the zoning change, I don’t have a solid basis to vote against the voting change and the special exception,” said Commissioner Kelly Owens.

“I just don’t have a good feeling about having the sale (of alcohol) next to the high school,” she said.

“It’s based more I think on having been both a teacher and a police officer and knowing what potentially could happen in those situations.

“We have numerous stores of this type in our community already, and I don’t have a comfort level with adding more,” she added.

Commissioner Bryant Culpepper said many people who do not have transportation walk to the stores of this type.

Commissioner Bradley Goodbread said the county should support the rights of the property owner.

“I don’t think we should tell the free market how many Dollar General stores or McDonald’s we should have,” said Commissioner Goodbread.

County Attorney John Cassels said the package sale of beer is determined by state law and all grocery stores are allowed to sell beer. The special exception is to also allow the sale of wine at this store, he explained.

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