Lawsuit: Lowe’s wants Hwy. 74, TDK location

Thu, 05/31/2007 - 3:39pm
By: John Munford

City fights retail use on industrial-zoned land

A pending lawsuit between a local developer and Peachtree City could end up with a Lowe’s Home Improvement store being located just off Ga. Highway 74 south and TDK Boulevard.

The city, however, claims that Hyde Investments can’t develop the 13.8-acre property for retail use because it’s zoned for industrial use. Hyde claims in the suit that the city’s zoning ordinance does allow for retail uses in the general industrial zoning district, pointing to more than 30 such uses on industrial zoned land in town but specifically just a bit to the north to the Gill-Roy’s Got It hardware store.

Gill-Roy’s is on land zoned industrial and thus the Lowe’s should also be allowed, Hyde argues in its suit. The city claims that Gill-Roy’s was a hardware store that existed in the mid-70s before the city beefed up its zoning ordinances, and thus it has been grandfathered as a “nonconforming use.”

In theory if Hyde wins the lawsuit, it could open up the city’s entire industrial park to commercial development unless the city were to change its ordinance in response to the court’s decision.

Hyde Investments has not sought a rezoning for the property, which is typically required before such a lawsuit can occur. But the city has agreed to waive that requirement in order to expedite a ruling from the court.

In the lawsuit, Hyde indicates that the City Council discussed his development plan in executive session and he was later informed by a city representative that council agreed the development is not allowed under the city’s current zoning ordinances because the property is zoned for general industrial use.

Attorneys for both sides filed motions for summary judgment last month which means a trial could potentially be avoided. Attorneys typically seek a summary judgment when interpretations of law are involved and the facts of the case are generally agreed upon.

The city’s zoning ordinance allows retail uses to occur on industrial zoned property if one of two criteria are met: if the retail use is “incidental” to the primary use of the property or if the establishment is designed to cater to the needs of other industrial zoned property in the city.

Hyde claims that the retail use of the Lowe’s is incidental to the storage of building materials on the site, but the city contends that is not enough because the primary use is to sell items including building materials ... not for them to be stored on site.

Hyde Investments is owned by Mike Hyde who owns several convenience stores including The Pit Stop and Omni Fuels. Hyde successfully fought the city in court before over the sign ordinance after he was initially told he couldn’t post gas prices on signs.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled in Hyde’s favor in that case.

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Submitted by jackyldo on Sat, 06/09/2007 - 9:41am.

In either case it's not in the right place, does not add quality jobs and the industrial park should be used for attracting the type of industry people in town can work at and make a better wage than retail.

If Lowe's forces their way in -- then don't shop there, there's Gilroys who does a far better job of helping their customers than Lowe's and Big Orange ever dreamed or cared about.

yellowjax1212's picture
Submitted by yellowjax1212 on Fri, 06/01/2007 - 10:22am.

I hope that PTC is ready to make some lawyer rich on this one (or is our legal team "in-house" yet). We may have a long and expensive legal fight on this one. I don't know how deep Mike Hyde's pocket are but if he has Lowes money behind him he could be a formidable foe.
Well, I guess on the positive side, if it is built on TDK, the new residents of the massive East Coweta development can easily access it from the new road that the state is going to force us to build and at least they will leave some sales tax money in our county when they buy home fix-it supplies.

secret squirrel's picture
Submitted by secret squirrel on Fri, 06/01/2007 - 6:52am.

Another dangerous precedent to this is the impact retail development in industrial zones will have on the existing infrastructure in that area. The roads in the industrial park are intended to handle the large, low-speed traffic endemic to industrial areas. Mixing in small-car retail traffic on the level Lowes would draw is going to gridlock the area and impair existing industrial traffic. The immediate knee-jerk solution will be as it always is- add traffic lights which will only serve to compound traffic gridlock in an area not designed for that volume of vehicles.

What Hyde and Lowes are hoping for is that the city will capitulate in the face of legal costs and simply give in to their demands. Call it extortion by jurisprudence but they will do what many well-funded private entities do when battling municipalities: escalate legal costs to the point it's not feasible to fight the development.

And cities frequently ignore principle and give in for that very reason. And all the citizens who were opposed and fought against the development soon forget and ultimately patronize these places after the smoke (and trees) are cleared. It's a shame that more people can't understand that principle has no price tag.

Submitted by McDonoughDawg on Thu, 05/31/2007 - 5:18pm.

This confirms it.

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Fri, 06/01/2007 - 5:56am.

If you really want something serious to worry about, go back and read the article and pay particular attention to this part
" if Hyde wins the lawsuit, it could open up the city’s entire industrial park to commercial development "

Since his attorney is former city attorney Lindsey, and the city has allwed this to go forward the way it did, the ruling could affect the entire industrial park instead of just one parcel. Very poor decision making or lawyering on the city's part.

And when some of the precedents come out, shame on many previous city councils for their liberal interpretation of the industrial zoning that "allows commercial that can be shown to serve the industries and workers within the industrial park".

This one is really going to hurt - especially when you think about TDK extension. Unfortunately, commercial in the industrial park - even if it mostly serves Coweta would be perceived as a good thing by our revenue-hungry leaders. Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.

Submitted by McDonoughDawg on Fri, 06/01/2007 - 8:31am.

But Hyde owns the pit stop, and is the one bringing action against the City. He runs a business here, and seems to want to ruin our town. If not Lindsey representing him, someone else surely would.

I see the city's point about properties that were grandfathered in. I also think that Lowes needs to move on to the 74/State 85 interchange area, that makes the most sense to me. You could serve PTC/Brooks/S Fayetteville with a store there very easily. PTC doesn't need the Home Depot we have, much less another BIG BOX.

Submitted by MIKEK on Fri, 06/01/2007 - 9:15am.

Why is it that developers and the like are able to get amendments or exceptions to an established charter when a resident has to pull teeth just to renovate his personal property? Take the recent westside annexation, it was to be residentially zoned for three acre parcels (correct me if I'm wrong) and now the density only serves to benefit the developer or whoever is on his payroll. The agreed "cut-through" from Hwy 74 to MacDuff Pkwy is advantageous to those residing west of Home Depot, but only until one reaches Hwy 74 because by then TDK will have become a reality as the commute to I-85 will be a nightmare during mornings and late afternoon.
Twenty years of residing in a premier town watching its quality of life disintergrate before my eyes is frustrating. We did not need Home Depot, Wal Mart, or now Lowes--These were available in either Fayetteville or Newnan requiring a thirty minute drive. The upside to this is we now save ten or fifteen minutes by driving across town in the traffic we brought upon ourselves.
Granted this started long before Logsdon, but as I remember a campaign promise to enhance the quality of life in our fair city--I only hope they made it worthwhile for you Harold, Steve, Cindy et al.

Submitted by McDonoughDawg on Fri, 06/01/2007 - 9:52am.

It all boils down to that.

I don't have so much of a problem with the Westside annexation for the homes. They will be around the same density as the rest of PTC is now. I have always said if we turned them down, they would have gone to Tyrone (I have no proof, but it's just the way things work).

We all had to know, that when ever pandora's box was opened to the FIRST big box , it was open game for anyone to challenge our laws. I think KMart was the first, and that's been quite a while ago.

I'm still not sure the City will lose this case. Although with their willingness (Lowes reps) to drop the other zoning request, the writing may be on the wall. Oh well, it will be good for the Wilshire folks.

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