To the editor:

My husband and I, along with our two young daughters, are residents of Cambridge Park in Brookhaven.

When we were looking for our current home we had a few “must-haves” for our new neighborhood…it must have sidewalks, it must not increase commute time significantly, and I must be able to walk to a destination with my children, preferably a park, grocery store and/or coffee shop.

We felt fortunate to find a fixer-upper in a neighborhood that met these criteria. Although the “walkability” left something to be desired, we had hope that over time redevelopment in the area would go the way of other successful neighborhood redevelopment around the city and around the nation – pedestrian-oriented with a healthy mix of businesses serving the surrounding neighborhoods.

I was taken aback to say the least when I heard about the Kroger Mega-Fuel center proposed for the vacant lot situated between Cambridge Square and the power station.

Not only would such a development limit the redevelopment potential of our neighborhood’s “town square,” it poses the potential to cause blight, increased congestion and cut-through traffic in our neighborhood, not to mention risks associated with this scale and type of development being situated next to the power station.

My house isn’t 50 yards from this proposed site, but my neighbors’ houses are…in many places in our country, a gas station this size is not permitted within 300 yards or more of residential areas or schools due to public health concerns — this, too, ought to be taken into consideration.

My plea to the city of Brookhaven is to simply say no to Kroger’s special use permit. I love the convenience of Kroger, but ask anybody in the neighborhood why this Kroger isn’t wildly successful and the answer won’t have anything to do with gas…. This Kroger isn’t meeting the needs of the customer base in customer service, quality of product, and/or quality of shopping experience.

Kroger, simply serve your neighborhood and this neighborhood will serve you well!

Sarah Kennedy

To the editor:

Kroger has proposed a plan to place a fuel station on the space next to the shopping center on Johnson Ferry and Ashford Dunwoody Road. Kroger has requested a special land use permit as a gas station is a non-approved occupancy for the existing zoning.

Note that the size of the Fuel Center. It is larger than half the existing shopping center. If placed over the existing shopping center it would cover all of the Kroger store, the Dollar Tree, the Nail Salon, all of Los Bravos and part of Starbucks. It is actually larger than the parking lot fronting on Rita’s and the Dry Cleaners. Proposed site – 43,000 sq ft, existing shopping center, only 71,000 sq ft.

Basically, the fuel center will dwarf the commercial space.

This is a massive change to the complexion of Brookhaven and surrounding area. It will exacerbate an already horrific traffic interchange and negatively impact the surrounding neighborhoods. Kroger has 83 fuel centers in the Atlanta area. There are none that are pried into residential neighborhoods as is proposed and certainly none are that are only 60 feet from a residence.

This proposal is ill conceived on many levels with regard to Brookhaven.

-There are three existing gas stations within 1/2 mile of the proposed site, so the revenue generated would only be incremental as the fuel center will cannibalize these revenue generating stations.

– Traffic would be further snarled in what is arguably one of the worst existing intersections in the Atlanta area

-A fuel center of this magnitude (an acre in size) is not in keeping with the surrounding commercial and residential area. The space would accommodate a myriad of possible occupancies. These are spelled out in the zoning ordinance and would be appropriate for this space.

In short, without overstating, the proposed plan is an abomination to the area and would affect not only the surrounding area but anyone traveling through northern Brookhaven.

Brookhaven’s policymakers have a chance to establish that Brookhaven is a great city to raise a family and to own a reasonable commercial business. They can do this by simply not approving the proposed special land use permit for a mega fuel center which Kroger is proposing to squarely plop down into a residential and mercantile area.

This is not anti-development, rather it is pro-appropriate development.

Brian D. Brown

To the editor:

My wife and I live directly across Johnson Ferry from the Kroger store. This has really been a tremendous convenience for us and our neighbors who oftentimes use our yard to walk to the store instead of driving. We welcome them. We have tolerated Kroger’s poor customer service, produce, and often sanitation because of the convenience.

Since the announcement about the mega fuel stop was made we have stopped using Kroger. We wait until we are in more need of groceries to go to Publix often calling others to see if we can bring something home for them. It’s a great neighborhood. However, their high-handed challenge to put a major fuel center at our back door has caused us to rethink or convenience paradigm.

We know that since we moved to this location eight years ago, the traffic on Johnson Ferry has increased immensely. The traffic backup is so bad that it is a rare occasion that someone in line will hold back and allow traffic out of our neighborhood. Also, with the advent of smartphones and GPS, traffic through our neighborhood has increased exponentially. We know that a stop light is planned at Waddeston. But it should be installed without adding the fuel center.

If we are to believe our city leaders Brookhaven is to do all in its power to maintain the integrity of neighborhood living this should not even be an issue. Most of us see no benefit in a major fuel center in our midst. I am sure there are a lonely few that want to see cheap gas close at hand. However, their desire is very short-sighted. They couldn’t personally buy enough fuel to warrant their selling out their neighborhood and the future of their investment.

As a traveling salesman I use a lot of fuel during the course of a month. I would drive right by the center every morning on my way to work. However, it’s on the other side of the street that would require my getting a break from oncoming traffic. Remember, that rarely happens. Also, I find other centers as Quick Trip are far more convenient and the help fantastic to work with. Kroger should seriously contemplate learning their hiring and training practices.

Adding a mega fuel station on Johnson Ferry Road will do nothing to enhance the neighborhood or Brookhaven City. Kroger profits for sure. But lifestyle not a bit. I think that putting all this together it shows that Kroger with or without a fuel center has not been a good neighbor. Their drive to add a fuel dump (I’m sorry. Did I use the wrong term?) further confirms that.

Pete Cabrelli

To the editor:

After working with retailers and shopping center developers for more than 25 years, I feel my role as a resident of Hampton Hall subdivision is to educate and evaluate this proposal based on my professional knowledge and expertise.

My desire is that the Brookhaven elected officials will take this information and use it to make the proper decision for the city of Brookhaven and the residents of Brookhaven they are elected to serve.

Retailers and Shopping Center Developers Pure Business Objectives:

  • As we discuss the Kroger store, and the Kroger real estate division, they are two totally separate parts of one corporation. The real estate division’s job is to find viable properties to expand corporate objectives. Easiest is to put expansions on properties they already are leasing.
  • The real estate division has a profile they have developed that pushes them in certain directions. In the case of this proposal, the population density created by the building of apartments and houses off of Johnson Ferry Road and Ashford Dunwoody makes this location appealing. This density meets their parameters.
  • Kroger management would love residents and elected officials to believe they would pull their retail component, if the gas is not approved. However, based on the highly competitive environment of supermarkets and their strong hold in the south, they would not want to give our area over to Publix. Closing this store would give Publix a monopoly since the normal drive time of supermarket customers is less than 5-7 miles.
  • They have invested almost nothing in the interior and exterior of their current store to improved sales and profitability, especially in comparison to their Peachtree Road location. The Peachtree Road location would be a much more conducive location for a fuel center.
  • Kroger’s will push hard for officials to approve their plans. However, if not approved, they will simply pick up their easels and drawings and go on to another property and approval process. That’s the real estate division’s job.
  • Retailers make all their decisions based on numbers. To increase their store to store sales, retailers’ continually look to new sites, new initiatives and new innovations. The fuel center will improve their profits at this location, however, to what expense to the local residents. Remember, retailers report to stockholders and not to the communities they affect. Their goal is completely financial.
  • Retailers also evaluate sites based on demographics and economic factors. Brookhaven as a city and a community is progressing, and the median income of the area is growing. Therefore, Kroger wants to be here, at this location, and part of the growth. They also want to make money off the growth.
  • If by chance Kroger would choose to pull out of the center because of a negative vote, other competitors will also recognize the business potential in the Town of Brookhaven. They too will come.
  • Traffic studies and convenience to local customers play a large role in a retailer’s evaluation of a good location. However, what they deem wonderful, local residents may have a completely different perspective. Kroger likes the fact that Johnson Ferry Road and Ashford-Dunwoody Road are backed up daily with traffic. They do not concern themselves about the affect their additional traffic will have on local neighborhoods.
  • In this location, they would gain tremendous visual exposure. A win-win for the corporate objectives of the marriage of retail and fuel.
  • The current proposal does not fit into the city of Brookhaven development plans. Kroger‘s job is to alter those plans, as many companies have done with DeKalb County in the past.

Finally, from a residents perspective, to have home values decrease because of increased traffic and cut-through of cars; high voltage power station adjacency and safety concerns; increased environmental concerns such as lighting and emissions; construction of a huge and ugly component to a community center in a city on the rise, makes no sense.

We, as residents of the area, have been saddled with decisions made prior to our city’s creation that have negatively affected our quality of life. We, as residents and elected officials, have a choice now and the right choice is to deny the Kroger Mega-Fuel Center proposal. New, not-wanted or needed construction can be prevented.

Mary Ellen Brigham

To the editor:

We are opposed to Kroger’s plan to add a large fuel center to the shopping center.

I’m sure you’ve heard complaints of decreased property value estimates, etc., but that is not our primary point of opposition.

We would really like to have more restaurant choices nearby that would help develop the neighborhood in a more pedestrian-friendly way. This business district has a different feel than the corner of Chamblee-Dunwoody and Peachtree Industrial. We don’t believe that’s the direction we would like to go.

Kroger has stated that they need the fuel station to make the Kroger a profitable business unit. We certainly do not protest any commercial enterprise for the purpose of making a profit. We do appreciate having a choice of grocers in the area. However, if Kroger cannot make a go of it without the fuel center, perhaps we would be better served by a more specialized retailer such as Whole Foods, Fresh Market, or perhaps some other retailer.

We are not convinced that lack of a fuel center is the problem at Kroger. We see a future where Kroger fails even with a fuel center and we are left with a fuel center we don’t need and no options for other retail that we would prefer.

If Brookhaven can do anything to move this decision in favor of local residents, it would be appreciated, and we think provide further confirmation of our decision to incorporate as a city of our own.

Jim, Joanne and Maggie Jane Clendenin

To the editor:

I am writing this letter to tell you about why the Kroger mega gas station is bad for our community.

First of all, traffic in our community will increase to the maximum. Now I don’t mean to complain, but traffic on Johnson’s Ferry is very bad. I have personally witnessed two accidents unfold right in front of me. One of my friend’s sisters was even hit by a car when trying to cross Johnson Ferry.

I know that with another gas station, this will only get worse. Cars may be backed up all the way to Northside Hospital! Our neighborhood would be greatly affected if this gas station was built. And we don’t even need more gas stations. I hope you can consider these points.

Andrew Pietkiewicz, age 11

To the editor:

The vision statement for Brookhaven as adopted by Brookhaven’s City Council as part of the Comprehensive Plan 2034 states: “Brookhaven will be a national model for a walkable urban community that preserves its unique character and history of neighborhoods, parks and natural assets, while welcoming higher density activity nodes that support transit use, biking, community homes, sense of place, and diversity of residents and businesses.”

I do not think that granting Kroger a special land use permit in order to add a mega pump gas station in Cambridge Shopping Center fulfills this vision in any way. The property is zoned for a neighborhood business (NS) and that is what we need there. Kroger wishes to draw customers from well outside our neighborhoods.

They have done a very poor job of running the store for many years. Why would anyone think that they could run the gas station well?

Please attend the meeting on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at Brookhaven City Hall and let your wishes be known.

Carol Cradick

To the editor:

Our soon-to-be adopted Comprehensive Plan states the vision for Brookhaven is: “… a national model for a walkable, urban community that preserves its unique character and history of neighborhoods, parks, and natural assets while welcoming higher density activity nodes that support transit use, biking, community hubs, sense of place, and diversity of residents and businesses.”

This vision alone is why we should oppose the proposed Kroger Mega-Fuel Center in our neighborhood. A 14-pump fuel center in the location proposed is diametrically opposed to these very values that we as citizens helped to formulate.

As active participants in the development of the comprehensive plan, these are the words of the citizens of Brookhaven and not of a corporate survey that is disconnected from the needs and desires of the community.

The character of this designation “is defined as small-scale retail development that serves the needs of the surrounding residential neighborhood. Typical uses include restaurants, pharmacies, convenience stores, dry cleaners, and salons. Target areas are a special policy overlay placed upon residential character areas to identify locations where neighborhood commercial is desirable.”

This definition does not include gas stations or other high traffic volume uses that is contrary to these desired outcomes. The very nature of requesting a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) means that the proposed land use has not been identified as a preferred use of the property. The bottom line is for a safe and healthy neighborhood not just for today but for future generations.

Tim Scarbrough

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Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.