SOUTHWICK — Plans to build a Dollar General store on College Highway have hit a roadblock, as the Planning Board on June 25 fell one vote short of the number needed to approve the project.

The 10,640-square-foot retail building proposed by Calito Development Group LLC for 771 College Hwy., a 3.4-acre parcel in a Business Restricted zone, required a supermajority of four “yes” votes on the five-person board. It got three votes, with Planning Board Chair Michael Doherty and member Richard Utzinger voting against it.

Since the Connecticut-based developer requested a permit in February, residents of the nearby Winnfield Circle neighborhood have attended every public hearing to express their opposition. Doherty made a similar argument on June 25, stating that a retailer like Dollar General doesn’t fit in with the “character” of College Highway north of Tannery Road.

Planning Board member Jessica Thornton, who voted to approve the permit, said she couldn’t see anything in the zoning bylaws to exclude a retailer from land zoned for business.

“It meets all the requirements [of the zoning bylaw] except for the nebulous ‘character’ argument. Is that a legally defensible position?” Thornton asked Doherty.

“Absolutely,” Doherty responded, adding that Calito, which was represented by Rob Levesque of R. Levesque Associates, made “no effort to comply with the design guidelines.”

Board member Dave Spina disagreed, stating that “they did everything we asked them.”

Calito and Levesque had originally proposed a standard storefront, nearly identical to the Dollar General store on Southampton Road in Westfield. Following neighbor complaints about the look of the building and lack of buffers between it and the neighboring residential development, Calito and Levesque modified the plan to include exterior features intended to fit in with the character of a New England town, such as a gabled roof with a cupola and a brick skirt around the base of the building; a 6-foot vinyl stockade fence around the sides and back of the building; and a roughly 30-foot-thick vegetated buffer just inside the property line. The plan was later modified again to remove a row of parking spaces and increase the depth of the buffer to 56 feet.

Utzinger said he “understood” and “liked” what the developer wanted to do, but he voted against it because there were more people opposed to the project than those supporting it.

Doherty said he agreed with “95%” of the proposed project, but that didn’t change his opinion that it was the wrong business in the wrong place. Rob Levesque, who attended the June 25 meeting, said Doherty’s reasoning seemed to him to be “completely arbitrary.”

“You might as well change your zoning,” Levesque said, adding that a prospective business that follows all the rules and regulations should not be able to be stopped by two board members because of “philosophical issues.”

Levesque told the board he was sure Calito would appeal the decision. The appeal could be heard by the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, but more likely, it would take the form of a lawsuit against the Planning Board in Hampden County Superior Court. Calito has 20 days to file an appeal, according to Town Planner Jon Goddard.