Could a second Dollar General negatively impact the Town of Marlborough? Some community members seem to believe it would.
Brigette Supernova was the first to raise the concern at the Planning Board’s Feb. 16 meeting, which featured a public hearing on the proposal to erect the discount store on Route 9W and Mahoney Road. A Dollar General already exists less than four miles south on 9W at Riverside Drive.
“Everything a second store has to offer can be found at other competing stores nearby,” said Supernova, who pointed out that Highland contains a large discount store and that nearby Walgreens and Hannafords carry much of the same stock at competitive prices. The addition would only take business away from mom-and-pops, she argued.
She referred to a 2019 CNN article by Nathanial Meyersohn, which included arguments from dollar store critics that the chains operate on a business model of “saturation:” the chains intentionally cluster multiple stores in low-income areas to discourage supermarkets and threaten existing small businesses.
“[Marlborough is] a town investing in riverfront public spaces and agrotourism to attract more tourists and weekend visitors. A quaint town with only chintzy chain stores along the main throughway has the opposite effect of attracting or charming visitors or even new residents for that matter,” Supernova said, to which board member Steven Clarke interrupted to say, “No, it wouldn’t.”
Supernova prompted the town leaders to encourage small businesses that give Marlborough its character rather than chain corporations that wouldn’t offer “sustainable, quality and reputable businesses.”
Another resident, Ted Millar, hopped on the call to join Supernova in her concern. He pointed out that while Dollar General would provide much needed community jobs and taxable income, it would not re-invest most of its profits back into the town. The revenue would instead be transferred to its corporate headquarters in Tennessee. The lost capital would only hurt businesses, he said.
“We can and should do better than this for our community and a second Dollar General is not progress for Marlborough,” Supernova concluded.
Board member Manny Cauchi recused himself from speaking as a Planning Board representative because he owns property adjacent to the Dollar General site, but spoke as a member of the public to raise traffic congestion concerns.
Applicant attorney Phil Grealy had said during their presentation that an easement could be added in the plans to allow for an exit from the lot at Mahoney Road should the Planning Board find it to be a good inclusion.
“I don’t know if that’s a good suitable plan,” Cauchi said. “If you’re having traffic that is exiting Mahoney Road onto 9W and you have one or multiple cars, you cannot get out of that driveway ... We’re going to be standing in the middle of 9W.”
According to Grealy, Cauchi’s concerns directly correlate with issues raised by the Department of Transportation’s traffic study. The applicant is opting not to install an egress at that point because of the potential traffic jam during peak hours, but wondered whether acquiring the easement would be beneficial for future development at a neighboring property.
“There would be an easement in case that property to the south was redeveloped,” Grealy said. “A cross connection could be provided, but clearly DOT would be involved with a review … Our standalone access was at a location with good site distance and away from where those turning movements occur.”
The board closed the public hearing after some discussion, though it will reopen at its March 1 meeting, at which point the Planning Board can make a final decision on the plan.