MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio — Ali Burmeister and her husband moved to Lafayette Township nine years ago.
“We are just a short drive from conveniences, but we still have the beauty and the character of a rural atmosphere,” she said. “We just really, really love it out here.”
But she fears their way of life is going by the wayside, with a Dollar General store going in right next to her and right smack dab in the middle of their, mostly, residential township.
“You look over now and all the beautiful trees that were there are going. The lot has been cleared. It was a vacant lot,” she said. “It doesn’t fit into our township values, the appearance of the township, it sticks out like a sore thumb.”
She is working to see that the plan doesn’t go through.
“All I can do is educate myself and try to use Ohio Revised Code and our zoning resolution, our comprehensive plan, to just try to make a difference here to try to find something that can stop this,” she said.
Burmeister and other residents have packed in the Lafayette Township Trustee meetings for the past several months voicing their concerns, but Martin Warchola, a township trustee, said the plan is already in motion.
“Now they [Dollar General] own the property. It’s just formalities now,” he said.
Warchola said he emphasizes with the residents nearby, but said the parcel of land on Lafayette Road, is zoned as a commercial area and their hands are tied.
“There's a whole process you can go through if you want to change zoning and it can be done. But obviously you can't go back and change it and make it retroactive to somebody who's already moving into a place,” said Warchola.
Burmeister started an online petition to keep Dollar General out of Lafayette Township. It has more than 500 signatures, to date.
She said not only would Dollar General hurt local residents but local mom and pop stores, too.
“Something like this, they don’t have that kind of buying power that Dollar General does and it’s really going to hurt them and they’re supporters of the community,” she said. “Our goal is to keep them out.”
Burmeister said she would have to consider moving if the deal went through.
“It’s not the environment we want our kids to grow up in, which is the reason we bought property here, with the intention to raise a family here. If we wanted that next door we would’ve moved to the city. We bought it and this was our forever home to raise the kids here. We have Cloverleaf School District which is phenomenal, Lafayette School House is an amazing daycare that my kids have been taken such good care of there, and so it’s going to be a lot of hard decisions.”
Dollar General responded to News 5’s request for comment with a statement:
We’re currently finalizing our due diligence phase for a new store in Lafayette Township.
We believe the new store would provide numerous economic benefits including the creation of new jobs, generation of additional tax revenue, more affordable accessibility to household essentials and the ability for nearby schools, nonprofits and libraries to apply for grants through the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
We opened our first store in Medina County in Brunswick in 2002 and strive to be a positive business partner and good community neighbor. Over the past two decades, our pace of growth has been measured and responsive to the market as demanded by our customers.