By IAN TULLY
---- — AUSABLE FORKS — AuSable Forks is in the running to be the home of a new Family Dollar.
The hamlet is one of 45 potential locations the national chain is surveying to build a new store, but the deal is a long way from being sealed.
“It is still very early in the process,” said Dan O’Connell, a real-estate agent representing Family Dollar.
O’Connell, who is based in Pittsburgh, said nothing was definite, but he did confirm that AuSable Forks was one of several locations being surveyed throughout Pennsylvania and the North Country as a new location for the national chain, based out of Matthews, N.C.
Lawrence Tillack, a contractor based in Canandaigua who constructs new stores for Family Dollar, said AuSable Forks was first scouted out in July.
“The demographics of the area would really support a Family Dollar. There is little competition, and the store would do great in AuSable Forks. As long as we get our local government approvals, we will proceed with the project,” Tillack said.
A Black Brook Town Council meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, in Black Brook Town Hall to determine whether Tillack will be granted a variance for a proposed roadside sign 2 feet larger than the town’s zoning law allows.
Black Brook Town Supervisor Rick Nolan said he thinks the public will support the variance because of what AuSable Forks stands to gain.
“We don’t have an active planning board or board of appeals, so we (Town Council) are the board of appeals, but we think (the project is going to be for the betterment of the town,” Nolan said.
He believes the store would offer 10 to 15 jobs and a good location for consumers to find what they’re looking for at low prices.
Tillack said the proposed location for the 8,000-square-foot store is the M&M Diner on the corner of Route 9 and French Village Road.
Diner owner Jay McDonald said that although he is looking to sell the parcel, negotiations have yet to produce anything final.
“Until the money is in my hand, I own the property,” McDonald said. “We have not come to an agreement. Everything is up in the air at the moment.”
McDonald said his diner will remain open and operational for now, but if the deal were to go through, he would seek to relocate his business nearby.
Tillack said that if the variance is granted, the prospect of closing on McDonald’s parcel would be much more likely.
Should the negotiations succeed, Tillack hopes to begin construction next March and open the store in July 2013.
Nolan, who has been recovering from a broken hip and femur he sustained in February, said he is optimistic that local people attending the meeting will support the variance.
“I believe the public will be in favor of it. People are very in favor of it.”
Both Nolan and Tillack said they will be at the meeting.