The council denied the request in a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Philip Goldstein opposing.
Ron Ridgeway, a grandfather of three who lives in the 85-home Elizabeth Acres subdivision adjacent to the property in question, applauded the Council.
“We’re just ecstatic,” Ridgeway said after the vote. “We can’t believe it. We’re so happy we don’t know what to do. I owe the city board a definite apology for saying they don’t care, because they have shown they do care.”
The Council has debated the proposal to change the property’s zoning status from residential to commercial for months.
RaceTrac has sought to build a 24-hour gas station in the nine-acre property, which it has under contract from the estate of John Melvin Clark.
Attorney Kevin Moore, representing RaceTrac, offered to keep the back four acres as green space to serve as a buffer between the gas station and homeowners.
But attorney Richard Calhoun, representing the homeowners, said that agreement wouldn’t be binding and the homeowners still didn’t want a gas station so close to their homes.
Councilman Johnny Sinclair led the charge to deny the request.
“Every time I make a decision about a zoning, I want to think to myself ‘would I want to live next door to this’ first, and second, ‘is it good for the whole community?’” Sinclair said after the vote. “I applaud them for trying to make it good for the community, but it’s just not.”
Goldstein said he voted against rejecting the zoning request because he “wanted to have a discussion and see if there was a way to find something that worked.”
Moore declined to comment after the vote.
In other business, the Council unanimously voted to rename Hickory Hills Park after Mayor Steve Tumlin’s late parents. The park is now the Steve and Virginia Tumlin Park at Hickory Hills.
The Council also appointed former councilmember Betty Hunter to a two-year term on the city’s Ethics Committee.
Councilman Grif Chalfant was appointed to a four-year term on the Cobb-Marietta Water Authority. Goldstein abstained on this vote. Chalfant is replacing former Councilman Van Pearlberg, who resigned to run for a seat on the Cobb Superior Court.
And Susan Grant was reappointed to a five-year term on the city’s Construction Board of Adjustment and Appeals.
The City Council also hired a firm to audit Marietta’s finances for Fiscal Year 2012, which ends June 30.
The city received two bids to conduct the audit: One from Marietta-based Mauldin & Jenkins, which bid $64,400, and another from Crace Galvis McGrath of Kennesaw for $67,200.
Sam Lady, the city’s finance director, recommended going with Crace Galvis McGrath, the more expensive bid, because that firm proposed spending more time on the audit and employs accountants who have done work with the city before.
But Tumlin said he would prefer to bring a new set of eyes to the city. Moreover, Tumlin said making such decisions should be left to the Council, not the staff. Council therefore ended up approving the contract with Mauldin & Jenkins.
The Council also approved a contract with the Metro Atlanta YMCA that runs through Dec. 31, 2013, which is when the term of Council expires, to run Custer Park, a seven-acre park located between North Marietta Parkway and Allgood Road on Kenneth Marcus Way.
The park formerly consisted of three worn-out baseball fields and a dilapidated concessions and restroom building, parks director Rich Buss said. The 2009 parks bond earmarked $1.8 million for its renovation, which Buss said is under way and should be finished in September.
Under the contract, the YMCA will bear all the costs of maintaining the park and running programs there. Buss said it intends to offer youth soccer programs, with plans to make the facility available for an adult soccer league, summer camps and soccer tournaments as well. Preferred pricing will be given to city residents for all programs, with the programs made available to anyone regardless of their ability to pay, Buss said.
The Council also approved a variance request for a proposed bank being built at the intersection of Roswell Street and Cobb Parkway across the street from the Big Chicken.
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank is under contract for the vacant 1.7-acre site by the Mansour Center that used to be a car lot owned by Ray Boyd. The company intends to build a 3,200-square-foot brick bank building at that corner.
The bank would also like to sell part of the property for another business to build a new building, possibly a restaurant.
Council approved a variance to allow the bank to build its building farther back from the street than is allowed in the special zoning district in which the property is located. A variance from the sign ordinance that would allow both proposed businesses developed at the site to be listed on signs fronting Roswell and Cobb Parkway was also approved.