Sunday, June 24, 2001

Racetrac request not dead yet


Plans for a new gas station and convenience store on Ga. Highway 85 next to Lowe's are still being considered.

A special exception request by Racetrac was tabled at Thursday night's City Council meeting after Mayor Kenneth Steele pointed out that the council still had concerns about the issue and did not appear prepared to support or deny the request.

Council members once again expressed concern about the proposed store being open 24 hours a day and the installation of a pay window in front of the store, which the applicants said is for the safety of the employees as well as the customers.

"It's not a fit [compared to other businesses in the area]," said Councilman Walt White, who noted that Wal-Mart at Fayette Pavilion is the only business in the vicinity open around the clock.

White also pointed out that he has examined a number of Racetrac stores in north Georgia and Alabama during his business travels in recent weeks, and he didn't like what he saw. "Racetrac does a sorry job of keeping their stations up," he said.

The store being proposed in this instance would have 20 gasoline pumps in addition to a 3,952-sq. ft. store.

Councilman Bill Talley concurred with White's assessment of other Racetrac stores and said there were several items that would need to be addressed before he could give his approval.

An attorney representing Racetrac began his remarks by raising a constitutional objection to the Planning and Zoning Commission's previous denial of the request, saying that rejecting the special exception would be a violation of his client's constitutional rights. (A court reported was present and recorded the entire discussion.)

He went on to stress that he felt the special exception request (to operate in a C-4 zoning district) and the station itself would be compatible with the surrounding developments.

"The land use here is highway commercial," he said. "I can't think of anything more appropriate."

The attorney said that the Planning and Zoning Commission turned down the request last month based solely on traffic effects, and that should not be the only consideration.

The property in question is owned by JDN Corporation, who is selling it to Racetrac and would not be involved in the development beyond that.


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