Don't like Family Dollar? Offer a better option

Offer a better option

Staci Matlock
editor@Taosnews.com
Posted 2/20/20

The Taos County Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday (Feb. 26) on a permit for a Family Dollar store in El Prado. Either way the decision is likely to be appealed by either the developer or the dozens of people opposed to the project.

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Don't like Family Dollar? Offer a better option

Offer a better option

Posted

The Taos County Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday (Feb. 26) on a permit for a Family Dollar store in El Prado. Either way the decision is likely to be appealed by either the developer or the dozens of people opposed to the project.

A Family Dollar store stuck amid some of the few remaining arable fields along Paseo del Pueblo Norte in El Prado would be a blight in the neighborhood.

But if the property owners want to sell and a developer has met all of the county's requirements, then legally there isn't much to stop it from going in.

Opponents of the Family Dollar store rightfully point out that the Taos Valley already has plenty of dollar stores filled with cheap goods - but all of them are on the south end of town.

Residents living out in the West Mesa and Upper Colonias could use a store out their way so they don't have to drive all the way into town to buy a few goods like milk, butter or dry goods. But plopping the store in the middle of El Prado isn't the best idea. It would be better suited further west, along U.S. Highway 64, out by the growing residential area of Upper Las Colonias, where there are already several businesses including some industrial ones.

It is good that residents in El Prado are speaking up, voicing their dissension, especially those adjacent to the proposed location for the Family Dollar store. It isn't the first time they've fought against a dollar store in the area. Thus far they've managed to hold it off.

Still, those opposed to the Family Dollar store should stick with fighting it based on concerns over traffic and losing arable land. They should refrain from the disdainful tone they often use about the cheap goods sold and the people who shop there. That is classist.

It is likely that many of those opposed have the money and means of transportation to easily shop elsewhere, and it is doubtful they buy everything local if they can get it cheaper at a store in Española, Santa Fe or order it from Amazon. However they feel about what is sold inside a Family Dollar store, many families find it an inexpensive, convenient alternative in an expensive town like Taos that offers few choices.

Ultimately, the best and most permanent way to stop the Family Dollar store is for opponents to offer an alternative. After all, the property owner has the right to do what he or she wants with the land, as long as it meets county regulations.

The protestors could pool resources, form a group and buy the lot. There is no surer way to stop a project they don't want and still allow the property owner to sell.

Once purchased, the group could turn it into a community garden or a demonstration farm. They could look for a way to place several affordable apartments there, since that is a huge need all over the Taos Valley. They could put it into a conservation easement working with the Taos Land Trust or another similar group. Or they could find a willing entrepreneur who wants to put in a business they find more acceptable.

The bottom line is they can't simply tell the property owner not to sell the property to a venture they don't want and offer no other viable alternative.That is no more fair than the property owner wanting to allow a store that will change forever the landscape of El Prado.

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