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Cormorant Dollar General store gets county OK

Despite a 17-page petition signed by some 300 people against Dollar General building a store near Cormorant village, the Becker County Board approved the project 4-1 on Tuesday. The planning commission had recommended approval.

Only Commissioner Barry Nelson, who represents the area, voted against granting the conditional use permit needed to build the dollar store at 10315 County Road 5, between the Cormorant Inn and Pelican Lake Zorbaz.

The request had been tabled after it failed to win support at an earlier Becker County Board meeting.

"With the amount of signatures here (on the petition) you can tell I've been getting a lot of calls," Nelson said, adding that there appears to be little neighborhood support for the dollar store. "Our decision has to lie on whether this (project) is detrimental to that area and more appropriate in a commercial-zoned neighborhood," he said. The site has been zoned agricultural, which is the default zoning for rural areas.

Commissioner Larry Knutson, who sits on the planning commission, said if neighbor opposition were allowed to stop all projects, the county would stagnate.

"We don't make our decision based on petitions," he said. "Three hundred people signed — 32,000 other people in the county didn't sign," he said.

"The community is overwhelmingly not in favor of this, for whatever the reasons may be," Nelson said.

He successfully moved to amend the motion to include a number of conditions: No lights on after the business closes for the day; the conditional use permit ends when the business changes hands; the five-acre lot is not to be subdivided; runoff will be funneled into surrounding wetlands; the noncommercial portion of the lot will be seeded with native plants, and at least six fir trees will be planted for screening purposes.