Twenty-two residents urged the Cobb Planning Commission on Tuesday to stop a giant convenience store from being built in north Cobb near Interstate 75, while Mableton residents are fighting a proposed used-car lot on Veterans Memorial Highway.
Neighbors of the proposed convenience store site had feared the plan for the northwest intersection of Wade Green and Hickory Grove roads was to build a truck stop, based on the proposed size of the building and 59 parking spaces.
Instead, rezoning the triangular lot would mean tearing down a few residential homes and two abandoned convenience stores to add a QuikTrip market with nine gas pumps.
Richard Calhoun, of the Marietta-based Gregory Doyle’s Real Estate law firm, said the new QuikTrip location would be a 5,700-square-foot “generation three store.” Designs for the previous generation of QuikTrip stores were closer to 3,600 square feet.
The extra space is for an extended food menu, with made-to-order pizza and breakfast sandwiches, as well as a barista serving coffee and ice cream.
Patrick Donner, a project manager for QuikTrip, told the Planning Commission, “in all reality, gasoline, tobacco and alcohol industries are dying,” so many QuikTrips will now have a full-service kitchen area, but no inside dining.
Concerns about crime, congestion
Two of the 22 residents who petitioned against the QuikTrip were Tom and Michelle Rath, who run the Primrose School off Wade Green Road, a private preschool down the street from the proposed site.
But the opposition was led by Bryant Bell, who lives off nearby Hickory Grove Trail. He told the Planning Commission the development of a mega-convenience store would bring crime, especially armed robberies.
“We don’t want to see the child molestation that come with convenience stores,” Bell said.
The residents also said the traffic at that intersection is heavily congested with speeding cars.
People living off Hickory Grove Place, which is behind the proposed QuikTrip site, already have a hard time turning onto the arterial roads that lead north to Highway 92 and west to Interstate 75.
“We who live there understand what is going on,” Bell said.
The last traffic study of the intersection by the Cobb County Department of Transportation dates back to 2006, so residents called for another one to be completed before the typical 10-year timeline.
Planning Commissioner Christi Trombetti, who represents the area, said a clean, modern store is an improvement to the unsightly vacant buildings now sitting on the corner.
Trombetti said she was not concerned about the increased traffic, calling the intersection a pass-through area, not a destination.
“I don’t believe any new commercial business on the corner will increase volume,” she said.
Trombetti said she was worried about the scale of the convenience store, but had not heard from the opposition until early this week.
A recommendation for or against approval by the Planning Commission will be tabled for 30 days.
A changing corridor
South Cobb residents also fought a battle Tuesday to stop a business from opening on a corridor nearby residents are trying to clean up.
American Auto Sales and property owner Hector Recinos requested a special land-use permit to build a used-car lot on the south side of Veterans Memorial Highway, west of Powell Drive.
The 1.19-acre lot to the east of Austell’s city limits was previously used by auto sales businesses in the past.
Brian Proffitt, with American Auto Sales, told the Planning Commission the new owner has repainted and tiled the inside of the small yellow building sitting on the lot, and installed a new roof and handicap wooden ramp to the outside.
Planning Commissioner Galt Porter, who represents the area, said a code adopted by the county in 1997 requires a minimum of 1 acre to store used cars, excluding space for sales offices. The site only has 0.75 acres of paved land.
“I think the code is pretty clear,” Porter said. “And I think it was established for a reason.”
Porter said he was worried about semi-trailer trucks unloading in the center turn lane on Veterans Memorial Highway.
“A land-use permit is about demonstrating a hardship,” Porter said. “Having too small of a lot is not a hardship.”
The used-car lot would be near a seafood restaurant, a Mexican restaurant and a bakery, which Proffitt says would benefit from out-of-state shoppers purchasing a vehicle advertised on eBay and staying to dine along the road.
“I have spoken to many businesses in the area and they are in favor of us opening up,” Proffitt said.
Sonya Wheatley, of the Mableton Improvement Coalition, spoke against the plan Tuesday, saying Veterans Memorial Highway is a corridor that is supposed to serve the adjacent community.
She said the used-car lot would negatively impact the property values of homeowners behind the space, and there are already 15 used-car lots on Veterans Memorial Highway, so the supply is not needed.
“We have clear signs of growth and improvement in the area,” Wheatley said. “Mableton is changing, we just need your help.”
The ruling on the special land-use permit was already held from the Feb. 4 hearing. The Planning Commission voted 5-0 Tuesday to recommend denial to the Board of Commissioners.