Land will be broken soon for construction of a new Dollar General in Vilonia.

Dan Bartlett of Bartlett Architects in Benton anticipates ground will be broken within a month and the store will be completed within four to six months. He described it as a "brand new plan" store measuring about 12,000 square feet. Customers, he said, can expect it to be a larger version and offer more products, including refrigerated items such as milk.

"It will be the sixth one done, using the brand new plan, in the state," Bartlett said. "It will be great and we are expecting it to do a big business."

The Vilonia Planning Commission, in a meeting Thursday night, approved a plan review submitted by Bartlett and surveyor Paxton Singleton. Bartlett told the commission there are plans to tear down a house on the corner of 64 Highway and Elizabeth Street, where the store will be located. He talked briefly about the measures that will be done to meet the city’s qualifications including establishing required parking. He also said there are plans to build a 30-by-30-foot, three-foot deep water retention pond to help with run-off problems.

Speaking on the architects’ behalf, Vilonia city engineer Fred Fowlkes said the plan is "one of the most complete site plans that has ever been presented to us."

Adjoining neighbors on Elizabeth Street, Jim Purvis Sr. and Jim Purvis Jr., sat in the audience. They didn’t appear to have any objections to the building project. However, Jim Purvis Sr. interjected his concerns a couple of times regarding drainage issues. He told commissioners they should also deal with drainage problems resulting in flood waters coming from other areas as well as requiring the retention pond. 

While the planning commissioners approved the site plan, they balked regarding a request for a variance excluding the installation of curbs and gutters on Elizabeth St.

"I have to do it and I think you should," said Charlie Weaver, commission member, addressing Bartlett. There are plans, Bartlett explained, for the Dollar General parking lot to be accessed from Highway 64 but to also use a portion of Elizabeth St. as an access. 

After several minutes of discussion, the commission approved the granting of a "partial variance" requiring curbs and gutters to be placed only about 140 ft.  from the corner—about half way down what will be the Dollar General’s property on Elizabeth.

A related matter, planning commission chairman Herman Eary recused himself from presiding over the meeting as soon as it was called to order.  He took a seat in the audience saying he has a "vested interest" in the agenda items. The first item on the agenda, he stood before his peers and requested a lot split involving about 2.5 acres located on Highway 64 and Elizabeth.

"The Dollar General is interested in buying there but they don’t need the whole lot," he said. Presenting maps to his fellow commissioners, he explained, the Dollar General has expressed a desire to purchase 1.43 acres from him. Following discussion, the commission voted unanimously to allow the split. 

Other business: Fowlkes announced a sign committee has been meeting and a proposed draft related to city signage revisions should be complete soon and ready for presenting to the commission.