Austell business owners display their muscle
by Marcus E. Howard
February 20, 2011 12:00 AM | 3333 views | 4 4 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cindy Gorth, owner of the Austell General Store, has advertised goods outside her store for years. But an ordinance enforced in Austell bans this practice and business owners are fighting to keep merchandise outside. <br> Photo by Marcus Howard
Cindy Gorth, owner of the Austell General Store, has advertised goods outside her store for years. But an ordinance enforced in Austell bans this practice and business owners are fighting to keep merchandise outside.
Photo by Marcus Howard
AUSTELL - For the five years that Cindy Gorth has owned the Austell General Store at 2787 Veterans Memorial Highway in an area of downtown called Austell Square, she said she has advertised her goods in front of her store.

But in recent weeks, the city had attempted to stop her and other businesses owners from doing so, arguing that it makes the area look junky. The business owners, however, believe they should be able to showcase their items to draw customers into their stores.

A city ordinance banning outdoor merchandise displays has been on the books for a while. And the city recently began to enforce it until about 22 business owners, led by Gorth, signed a petition within two days that requested an end to the ban with a few exceptions.

They then presented their petition to City Council members on Feb. 2.

"The code in the city of Austell states that there should be nothing between the door and the main street of the business," Gorth said.

"We went around and talked to other businesses and petitioned the Council to write into the code that if you're not impeding a walkway or anything to that nature, then it should be OK. It's an attraction for the Square and for businesses in the Square to leave their merchandise, so people can see and if something attracts their attention, they can stop."

Joe Jerkins, Austell's longtime mayor, said he is in support of the business owners.

"I think they ought to be able to display their stuff out where somebody can see it," he said.

Not everyone agrees with Jerkins' viewpoint.

The City Council remains divided on the issue and has yet to make a formal decision about whether to keep the ordinance intact or revise it.

Councilman Randy Green, who owns a remodeling supply store across from Gorth, said the Council is continuing to work on the issue.

"Not everyone is together on it yet," said Green, who is in favor of revising the ordinance. "We have different opinions, some of us do."

On Saturday, like many other downtown businesses, Green had products on display in front of his store on Humphries Hill Road.

"An ordinance is not like a speeding ticket," he said. "An ordinance is to keep people from really getting out of hand. Even though we've had an ordinance against it, it hadn't really been pushed or enforced in so many years."

In the meantime, Gorth said she is pleased with the present, unofficial compromise in which the ordinance is not being enforced.

"What it boils down to is that they're not rewriting the ordinance yet, but they're not going to do anything about it unless people start leaving junk basically," she said.

"So we kind of won and we kind of didn't, yet."
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Pam J
February 21, 2011
I don't think that removing the things in front of the stores is going to make much difference. I hate to say it, but downtown Austell is not a hotspot of activity. The only Cobb County city with any "life" is Marietta. Others have tried, but until somebody can figure out what everybody wants to buy, no store is going to make it.
truth hurts
February 21, 2011
Hillbilly clowns, leave those merchants alone and go look in a mirror and remind yourselves that you are just little fish in a little pond!
February 20, 2011
Congratulations nitwits on the Austell City Council.

There's not much business in Austell now, nor has there ever been.

If you keep on, you will destroy the little bit of business that is there.

Of course, the Austell Development Authority did use almost a quarter of a million dollars to build a park for previous Austell mayors and erected a statue for Mayor Jerkins. The city council approved this.

This little piece of real estate is a few feet down the street from the business mentioned in this news article.

I thought development funds were suppose to be for development, not for the egos of a mayor and former mayors.

By the way, a former Austell council member whose father was briefly mayor voted for this tribute area to mayors.

The gas flames at this tribute park burn 24 hours a day. Wonder how much that cost, in addition to the nearly $250,000 in development funds for the park itself, which money came from interest on a settlement with the railroad.

Here is a good reason to vote against SPLOST on March 15, 2011, or at early voting sites. Cut off their money and you cut off the power of these nimrods.
February 20, 2011
"Push back" against overly intrusive governments is a good thing! We need more of it!
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