The Douglasville City Council on Monday unanimously approved a 90-day moratorium on applications for small-box discount stores while conducting studies on the issue.
Small box 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 within the county, and five stores within the city limits of Douglasville.
The measure passed without any comments or debate among council members.
“I’m a little surprised there has been no further comment,” Councilman Mark Adams said before the vote.
The moratorium would expire on June 13, but will exclude any current projects that include a discount store.
According to the resolution adopted, current discount box stores will not be affected.
The resolution defined small-box discount stores as as being retail stores that sell convenience discount items, most for $10 or less. Such a store would be 12,000 square feet or smaller and wouldn’t include a pharmacy or gas pumps, effectively exempting convenience stores and major drug-store chains.
Prior to Monday’s meeting, Mayor Rochelle Robinson received a two-page letter from Dollar General executives in opposition of the moratorium.
“We write to express our position against a proposed moratorium on small box discount retailers,” Steve Brophy, vice president of Government Affairs wrote in a letter to the mayor. “We believe this measure would harm consumer choice and limits free enterprise, and we are disappointed that the City would look to limit our ability to serve your community.
“We believe targeted efforts at prohibiting our ability to open future stores and offer residents an affordable, convenient retail option is not in the best interest of the City and actually harms the residents who rely on us to help 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 have adopted small-box store ordinances. Stonecrest in DeKalb County and Stockbridge in Henry County have similar ordinances.
Also DeKalb County has placed a moratorium on new stores while studying their effects, according to documents related to the resolution.
Brophy called the consideration of a moratorium “puzzling” considering the current pandemic while supplies have been in demand.
“Our stores continue to play a significant and important role for customers who are looking for a convenient option to purchase essential goods, something that became 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 remain open and to provide them with the items they need at affordable price.
“We and our employees take this responsibility of service 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 store location decisions and product assortments based on what our customers need and want.”