The Fayette Group worries about a possible Dollar general store in Uniontown
A Fayette historical group opposes the potential construction of a Dollar General discount store next to a Uniontown school, which could result in the demolition of an 1870s house.
From the perspective of the Fayette County Historical Society, even though the store is built on a section of the 1.79-acre lot fronting 367 Morgantown St. and would not require the demolition of the 1876 house known as of Craig Mansion, it would destroy the historic nature of the property. The property itself dates back to when Native Americans roamed the area, said Chris Buckelew, president of the historical society.
“The store would be built on a site of two (Native American) trails – Nemacolin and Catawba,” Buckelew said. Buckelew wants to ask the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to conduct an archaeological dig.
The Catawba Trail, used by Native American warriors, stretched from present-day Georgia to New York. Part of the Nemacolin Trail, connecting present-day Cumberland, Maryland, to Brownsville, was used by General Edward Braddock in his ill-fated 1755 attempt to capture French-built Fort Duquesne in present-day Pittsburgh.
The store would also be adjacent to Benjamin Franklin Elementary-Middle School. It could create safety concerns by adding traffic from vehicles and tractor-trailers delivering goods on a busy road in an area where children would walk, said Debbie Miller, who lives on Emerson Street, located behind the Craig Mansion .
“Most of the time, I don’t think a Dollar General belongs next to a school,” Miller said. “I don’t want my neighborhood ruined.”
Dollar General has not decided whether it will build a store on the site, said Emma Hall, a spokeswoman for Dollar General. She said the company was working on its due diligence process to place it on a vacant section of the property on Morgantown Road.
Hall said the company expects to make a final decision by late spring.
“We haven’t committed to that yet,” Hall said of the company’s interest in adding a store in Uniontown.
A new store in Uniontown would be one of approximately 1,100 stores Dollar General, based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, has committed to opening this year.
It currently has more than 17,800 stores nationwide, according to the company’s earnings report filed for the quarter that ended Oct. 29. The company said it believes its stores provide economic benefits, including better access to affordable products, jobs, career development opportunities for workers and tax revenue for the municipality.
The property is currently owned by RJDM Enterprises Inc. of New Salem. RJDM bought it in August 2021 for $250,000, according to documents filed with the Fayette County Recorder of Deeds.
In addition to the three-story house, which has been divided into three apartments, the property has a garage with an apartment above and a small occupied house.
A spokesperson for RJDM could not be reached for comment. An attorney representing the company signed the deed, and the company is not incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania, according to state company records.
The plot purchased by RDJM once belonged to successful farmer Robert Craig, who built the three-story Queen Anne-style house after Craig visited the South, according to Buckelew.
Craig’s family had deep roots in Fayette County. His maternal grandfather had a farm in the area and served in the Revolutionary War. He was one of the framers of the Constitution, participated in the Constitutional Convention and was elected to Congress for seven consecutive terms, beginning in 1792, according to research by the historical society.
Opponents presented their reasons for opposing the project at a Uniontown council meeting last week, Miller said.
His online petition against the project had received around 3,665 signatures by Saturday morning. The petition argues that the quietness, residential status and property values of the nearby neighborhood of Craig Meadows I would be affected by the store.
The petitioners want to preserve the historic mansion, but, despite its age, the site is not one of those in Fayette County listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the challenges for those objecting to the proposed discount store on the property is determining whether the property is zoned for residential or commercial use, Miller said. If it is zoned for residential use, the landlord should ask Uniontown officials to rezone it.
Uniontown officials said the property had already been rezoned for commercial use, but Miller said she had not received proof of the rezoning.
City attorney Tim Witt could not be reached for comment.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, email@example.com or via Twitter .