Council denies auto shop roof repair request
by Noreen Cochran
January 12, 2013 12:05 AM | 2816 views | 1 1 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — After contentious comments between an auto repair shop owner and his residential neighbors, the Marietta City Council on Wednesday unanimously denied a request for a series of variances to enclose the workspace at the business.

George A. Hussey IV, owner of Automobile Atlanta, said his 32-year-old car dealership, parts retailer and auto repair shop located on 1.2 acres at 505 S. Marietta Parkway needed a new roof because the current one leaks.

“It was built out of sticks and tin,” he said about the 66-year-old roof. “I can’t fix it. It has to be replaced.”

Hussey said he wanted his new metal roof to also cover the rear portion of the building and storage yard, connecting with an existing wall along Grogan Street, to allow expansion of the parts storage area and body shop.

“I am out of room, and I desperately need to hire a couple more mechanics,” Hussey said. “It would also make (the grounds) much more aesthetically pleasing to customers, the city and neighbors.”

His November building permit application triggered a review by the city, according to Development Services Director Brian Binzer.

While some aspects of the 1947 building can be “grandfathered in,” or allowed to remain since they predate the 2003 zoning ordinance, Binzer said Hussey needs to address their compliance to get his building permit.

One of those aspects is the very existence of Hussey’s business, which is on property in the Community Retail Commercial zone, which does not allow body shops across from houses.

“This regulation is intended to protect residents from the negative effects of paint and body work,” Binzer said.

Binzer said code violations included the use of metal siding, the outdoor storage of wrecked cars and a shed standing too close to Grogan Street.

Neighbors protested the nine variances Hussey asked for.

Grogan Street resident Cheryl Richardson called Hussey a “bad neighbor.”

“I understand he was a nonconforming use that was grandfathered in, so we have to abide by that. In accepting that, what I’m asking you is don’t let him expand it,” she said.

Richardson cited traffic, noise and appearance as her major complaints.

Fixing or replacing the existing roof, keeping its original dimensions, was fine, but nothing more should be allowed, said Richardson and her neighbor, Sam Elliott.

“He has had 20-plus years to do something with that property,” Elliott said. “He does nothing but add junk.”

Justin Clark of nearby Phillips Drive said his problem was not with an expanding business, but one literally pushing its boundaries.

“He’s asking for nine different exceptions (to the law),” Clark said. “That’s excessive. I would be OK with a couple.”

Hussey denied the allegations, saying the neighbors are well aware of how he conducts business.

“I have always done everything the same, never changing anything,” he said. “I have always stored cars in the back. I have always done repairs there. I have always sorted parts in the back.”

In other action on Wednesday, the City Council approved unanimously Six Flags White Water’s request for rezoning so it can erect its new Typhoon Twister ride for Memorial Day weekend.

The vote came after a dispute resolution between the amusement park and its neighbor to the southeast, White Water Business Park.

The two parties conferred at City Hall outside council at the suggestion of City Councilman Philip Goldstein.

Business park attorney Ellen Smith of Vinings-based Holt Ney Zatcoff and Wasserman had asked for a deferral or denial of the matter approved Jan. 2 by the city planning commission, citing insufficient and improper notice of zoning procedures.

She also said the business park, which is 80 percent occupied, needed relief from the potential noise from the thrill ride.

“They’re screaming and having a great time,” Smith said about future riders. “They’re going to be 20 feet from our property line. They’re going to climb up, they’re going to scream and yell, and all the sound goes down this tube right back up and shoots directly at my client’s property.”

To resolve the issue, amusement park representative Jeff Brewer of Kennesaw-based Brewer Engineering said his client, Six Flags Over Georgia Acquisition Co., will build a sound buffer.

Also on Wednesday, the City Council voted 5-2 to reverse a decision of the city’s pension board, on which City Council members Annette Lewis and Goldstein sit, as well as City Manager Bill Bruton.

That board had voted 4-3 at its Nov. 14 regular meeting to deny disability retirement benefits to former Public Works secretary Gwendolyn Carson, an 18-year city employee.

But the introduction of new medical information gave members of the council cause to restore Carson’s benefits.

Goldstein said the deciding factor for him in the reversal was a discrepancy between what was presented at the Nov. 14 meeting and what the council received.

“Based on my knowledge, the record is incomplete, but it’s what this council has in front of it to consider. I have no choice but to not uphold the decision of the pension board because the record in front of the pension board is not in front of this council. From my standpoint, I have no choice but to support the motion,” he said.
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