Mableton advocates oppose auto parts store; Johnson Ferry church to be reconsidered

·3 min read

Jul. 5—A zoning application to turn an undeveloped parcel on Veterans Memorial Highway in Mableton into an auto parts store is facing opposition from the Mableton Improvement Coalition.

Sitting near the highway's intersection with Buckner Road, Streamline Development hopes to build an AutoZone on a 1.1 acre portion of a 3.8 acre parcel. The property does not require a change in zoning category, but does require the removal of pre-existing restrictions to allow the store to be built. The county's Planning Commission will consider Streamline's application at its monthly hearing Tuesday morning.

Speaking with the MDJ last week, MIC zoning committee chair Robin Meyer explained the parcel was originally rezoned for a large private school complex which never advanced to construction. By slicing off the portion of the parcel for the AutoZone, she said, the "piecemeal" rezoning would "leave behind an awkwardly shaped piece of property."

"We would like to see a comprehensive plan for this corner, not piecemeal zoning, and that comprehensive plan would allow for an understanding of how the traffic will flow," she said, arguing the proliferation of more commercial driveways along that stretch of highway would negatively impact congestion by increasing truck traffic.

Meyer further said another auto parts store—which are frequently cited as a less-than-desirable land use in zoning hearings—isn't what the area needs.

"Quite candidly, Mableton is saturated with auto-related uses," Meyer said. "(It) simply makes our community unattractive to other kinds of business, and it takes up valuable commercial locations, such as this one, for uses that ... are more appropriate for an up-and-coming community."

Garvis Sams, attorney for Streamline, said he's been in touch with MIC for their input on the project, but "this application is simply one application where our opinions differ."

Sams conceded changes in the last decade to the area's future land use designation had stemmed the expansion of "car-centric" uses, but argued "it was not meant or designed to rid (the area) of ALL automotive related uses." He went on to outline a half-dozen additional points in favor of the rezoning, noting county staff has recommended approval of the project and that the building will be subject to area-specific design standards.

In other business, the Planning Commission will revisit Tuesday the proposal by North Point Ministries to build a 125,000 square foot church and 129 homes at the intersection of Johnson Ferry and Shallowford roads.

When last heard in May, North Point's application stirred nearly as much controversy as the high-profile redevelopment of Sprayberry Crossing in east Cobb. Dozens have turned out to recent hearings, both in-person and online, claiming alternately the church would be a blessing for the area or a disaster.

Planning Commissioner Tony Waybright represents the area and said in May that North Point's plan had shown "major improvements" and was trending in the right direction. Ahead of Tuesday's hearing, he told the MDJ he was still studying a new site plan from the developer.

North Point's attorney Kevin Moore, meanwhile, said the changes to the latest version are largely cosmetic alterations to the project's design.

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