Residents decry proposals for gas station, used-car lot
by Rachel Gray
March 06, 2014 04:00 AM | 6991 views | 10 10 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tom and Michelle Rath stand near the site of a proposed QuikTrip convenience store they say will bring additional congestion to an already busy intersection at Hickory Grove and Wade Green roads in Kennesaw. The Raths run a private preschool down the street from the proposed site.
Tom and Michelle Rath stand near the site of a proposed QuikTrip convenience store they say will bring additional congestion to an already busy intersection at Hickory Grove and Wade Green roads in Kennesaw. The Raths run a private preschool down the street from the proposed site.
Looking across to the northeast corner of Hickory Grove and Wade Green roads through what Tom and Michelle Rath say is an already busy and congested intersection. The couple say a proposed QT station at the site will bring even more gridlock to the area in Kennesaw. <br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
Looking across to the northeast corner of Hickory Grove and Wade Green roads through what Tom and Michelle Rath say is an already busy and congested intersection. The couple say a proposed QT station at the site will bring even more gridlock to the area in Kennesaw.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
KENNESAW — Residents in both north and south Cobb are fighting to stop businesses from being built on vacant lots, saying the plans would hinder redevelopment, spur crime and further congest traffic.

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.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Say What?
March 06, 2014
The main issue is not where the QT sits but where the traffic is going to exit. When exiting onto Wade Green from the QT the traffic will only be able to turn right. When exiting to Hickory Grove Rd. the traffic will only be able to turn right. Which means....come on, you can do it, all traffic that needs to turn left onto Hickory Grove Rd. or Wade Green Rd. has to exit onto Hickory Grove Place.

Once cars exit the QT onto Hickory Grove Place going either left of right the road ends at a stop sign, not a stop light but a stop sign. Once you get to these stop signs traffic now has to make a left turn onto two heavily traveled and congested roads without the benefit of a light. If you live on that road or in the two subdivisions off of that road (which I have for 30 years) you know it is almost impossible to make a left turn onto either road especially during rush hour. In fact turning left onto Hickory Grove Rd. from Hickory Grove Place can be an extreme hazard.

Here is the problem:

1- In the mornings traffic dropping kids off at Pitner Elementary (about 1,500 ft. away)

2- Parents dropping off kids at the Kinder Kare at the corner of Hickory Grove Place and Wade Green Rd. (driveway on Hickory Grove Place)

3- Middle School & High School bus stops at Hickory Grove Dr @ Hickory Grove Place and Cindy Ln. @ Hickory Grove Place

4- Heavy congestion already on Wade Green Rd. and Hickory Grove Dr trying to get to I-75

5- Finally the busiest/heaviest traffic volume time for a QT is during rush hour when folks get gas, eats, etc. before going to work or returning home.

Please don't forget this is only in the mornings. Now do the same thing in the afternoons with all of the returning traffic.

Unfortunately, all that have posted comments so far to this article talk just like Planning Commissioner Christi Trombetti did at the meeting. She seemed to be only worried about how pretty everything would look once it was done or how it would spruce up the area. Whereas the people who live on or off of Hickory Grove Place have to worry about our safety.

The solution is easy if QT is such as great neighborhood addition that will "spruce up" the area. Do not put a entry or exit from the QT parking lot onto Hickory Grove Place. Problem solved.

For all of those in this article that love the cleanliness of a store such as the one proposed. Have you ever looked at the roads surrounding stores such as this? Notice the garbage pile up where people throw their cigarette butts, packaging, etc. as they exit. That garbage will end up in our neighborhood.
March 08, 2014
Let me tell you, the LAST thing QT wants at it's entrances/exits is a TRAFFIC PROBLEM. It DOES NOT make business sense.

If you think their business will be improved by all of the traffic difficulties you believe their store will bring to that corner, I would suggest you re-think your thinking.

I have yet to see a QT, anywhere, where a traffic problem was a feature of their entrance/exits.

PS - NO. I am not a chamber hack who will just rail positive for anything the business community desires. I have observed QT over the years, in various locales ( near and far), and they have proved to me that they know what they are doing and they understand that having the community they move into happy with QT, IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS. QT is on my list of what an EXCELLENT company looks like.
Dave Z.
March 06, 2014
You have the opportunity to rid TWO vacant, blighted convenience stores for a new state-of-the-art convenience store. Why is there opposition to this? People will complain about anything, I guess.
March 09, 2014
We live off of Hamby Road and were so excited to see the rezoning sign. That property has been vacant for years. When the property for Pittner Elementary was being rezoned down the road there were signs declaring that children will die from the heavy traffic. Some people will say anything.
Just Wait
March 06, 2014
Of course is that QT was about 3 miles down the road, they would be all for it. Just not close to my house. And where did Bell come up the the association of convenience store and child molestation? Out on the edge of his flat earth?
March 06, 2014
"We don’t want to see the child molestation that come with convenience stores"

I wonder if he said that with a straight face
Diamond Jim
March 06, 2014
Right you are, my friend! I would love to see the empirical, statistical, or behavioral science based evidence on which Bell's child molestation concerns are based. More likely he was listening to the voices in his head! :o)

Come to think of it, I don't seem to recall QT stores getting robbed much either, but a quick check of law enforcement records could answer that one.
March 06, 2014
Those QT stores are ALWAYS the bright spot in any area in which they are built. They are typically a vast UPGRADE to what ever area they are placed in. They are clean. Well maintained and staffed by folks who give a durn about what they are doing. They are not just "a gas station".

Any neighborhood group that wants to keep a QT store out of their area is run by people who are not in touch with reality. These folks need to realize when QT comes to the neighborhood, the IMPROVEMENTS HAVE BEGUN.

Get a grip folks or get ready for that ugly vacant gas station that is currently sitting there to be there a looooooooong time.

Bill Mc
March 16, 2014
The big problem we have is traffic congestion exacerbated by motorists making left turns on and near Wade Green Rd. If physical lane dividers were installed one quarter mile each side of Wade Green Rd and Hickory grove intersection on Wade Green Rd I would not be opposed to the gas station.
James Reynolds
March 19, 2014
I live off of Hickory Place, and it's very true what is being said about taking a left hand turn onto Wade Green Rd. This would cause an already congested area to be even worse off. How about a decent sit down restaurant in that location????? We already have two major gas stations within an 1/8th of a mile from each other, why would I want another one serving bad pizza and cheap soft drinks?? I hate the abandoned properties that are currently on the site, but adding this gas station would make it even worse to get onto Wade Green.
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