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Lidl grocery store, 65-townhome rezoning requests up for Gainesville City Council approval
09192017 LIDL
Gainesville City Council on Tuesday will hear a request by German food chain Lidl to build a prototype store with a footprint of almost 36,000 square feet, 172 parking spaces and two loading spaces on 6.8 acres on the east side of Dawsonville Highway and southeast of Beechwood Boulevard - photo by Clark Leonard

The public has one last shot to speak up before Gainesville City Council votes Tuesday night on two rezoning requests for developments in high-profile areas — a grocery store on busy Dawsonville Highway and 65 townhouses on South Enota Drive.

One public hearing centers on a request by German food chain Lidl to build a prototype store with a footprint of almost 36,000 square feet, 172 parking spaces and two loading spaces on 6.8 acres on the east side of Dawsonville Highway and southeast of Beechwood Boulevard.

The other public hearing deals with plans by JH Homes Inc. to develop 65 townhomes on almost 22 acres on the east side of South Enota Drive and fronting Smoky Mountain Springs Lane and Pearce Way.

Gainesville City Council meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Public Safety Complex Municipal Court, 701 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville

Both requests were unanimously recommended for approval with conditions by the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board on Aug. 8.

No one appeared to speak against the Lidl proposal at the planning board meeting. However, a group of homeowners in the vicinity of the JH Homes development pushed back against the townhouses

Those who spoke on behalf of other homeowners said the wetlands near the proposed building site is a habitat for a variety of wildlife, and they feared construction would drive wildlife away from the area.

Others feared deteriorating conditions, possible crime and devaluation of home prices in the neighborhood if a number of townhouses end up being rented out.

Lidl seeking a location in Gainesville is part of the chain’s aggressive incursion into the United States, where it hopes to take a bite out of competitors’ market share. Already the fifth-largest retailer with more than 10,000 stores in 26 countries as part of the Schwartz Group, Lidl began opening stores along the East Coast this spring and is expected to be operating 32 to 34 stores by the end of 2017 and add another 100 in 2018. The retailer’s end game is to have some 600 U.S. stores.

Analysts are predicting that Lidl’s no-frills, low-prices blueprint will put it in direct competition with another German chain — Aldi — which has carved a niche from a discount grocery market traditionally dominated by Wal-Mart.

The U.S. grocery war heated up this summer when Kroger sued Lidl in federal court to force the German stores to stop selling their “Preferred Selection” brand, which Kroger claimed mimicked its “Private Selection” label. A federal judge denied Kroger’s request. 

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