Council grants rifle club special use permit, city reports 'hiccup' in Dollar General plan

The De Soto City Council agreed with the city Planning Commission's recommendation to grant a special use permit to the Mill Creek Rifle Club to expand their range by 100 yards, making it a 600-yard range, at their meeting Thursday night.

The permit is contingent upon the club completing several additional steps before the expansion, including obtaining a floodplain development permit from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and reaching a legal agreement with the Zimmerman Trust, which currently owns the property the club hopes to expand upon.

The permit will have no expiration date and will allow the club to operate seven days a week from 5 a.m.-11 p.m. as requested.

City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle informed the council during the meeting that the proposed development of the new Dollar General at the intersection of Penner and Lexington Avenues has hit a "hiccup" due to budget overruns by the development company.

An outside development company, Tennessee-based GBT Realty Corporation, purchased the 1.3 acre lot from the city for $140,000 with plans to build a new store that would then be leased by Dollar General for a new store. Guilfoyle informed the city that the sale of the land officially closed this week and that building permits were ready to be issued since the council had approved the final plat of the land. The sale was conditional upon GBT building the Dollar General store on the land within a year of closing.

According to Guilfoyle, GBT contacted him earlier in the week and stated that due to city requirements, such as landscaping, road improvements and building fees, their project is now approximately $77,000 over budget. Guilfoyle then said that GBT warned they may "pull up stakes and leave" if the city could not "help reduce" the overage. Guilfoyle also pointed out that through a policy error on the city's part that GBT has yet to pay the excise tax, approximately $12,000, on the property, which would bring their total overage to $89,000.

"There are several options if, and that's a big 'if,' the city believes there is a threat of Dollar General relocating," Guilfoyle told the council. "Staff has looked at the overages as GBT has presented them and we've outlined ways the city could cut that overage while avoiding a cash payout."

The options presented by the staff ranged from reducing the landscaping requirements, an overage of more than $20,000 in GBT's budget, to refunding a portion of the land's sale price as the city got more out of GBT than the appraised value of $100,000 for the acreage.

"I feel we need to work with these people, we can refund some of that sale price because I'm still shocked we got that kind of money in the first place," said Councilman Ron McDaniel. "We want this store and we need this store for this town to grow."

His fellow council members and Mayor Dave Anderson agreed with McDaniel to a point.

"I'm not incredibly worried that [GBT] will pull up stakes and leave," said Councilman Randy Johnson. "I think they're grasping at straws but I think we can probably knock some off of the landscaping requirements and be done with it."

After further discussion, Councilman Rick Walker moved that city staff draft an agreement to cut approximately $40,000 from the list of overages to be presented to GBT on the condition that the company pay the $12,000 excise tax on the property without objection or appeal. The motion passed unanimously. If GBT accepts the city's proposal, construction will move forward, if not, Guilfoyle will return to the council for further action.

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