Editor’s note: This article has been update to clarify comments made by Ed O’Connor.
The Brookhaven Planning Commission on Dec. 3 recommended a denial of Kroger’s request for a special land use permit to install a 14-pump gas station near the grocery store at Ashford Dunwoody and Johnson Ferry roads.
That action followed city staff’s recommendation to deny the application. Ben Song, the city’s deputy community development director, said that recommendation was based on the fact that the area is zoned neighborhood shopping and that gas stations such as the one requested are typically found in denser areas.
In recent weeks some neighbors have come together to voice traffic and safety concerns over the proposal, putting up protest signs and a website, nokrogergasstation.com, that states “Cambridge Park Civic Association and Hampton Hall Civic Association strongly believe that the proposed property use as a 14-pump mega station is contrary to our neighborhood’s character as a pedestrian, family-friendly, walkable community and, more specifically, contrary to the designation of our neighborhood as ‘neighborhood shopping.’ ”
Linley Jones, who showed up with dozens of neighbors to show opposition to the project, said the permit request does not fall into current zoning. It’s just way too close to longstanding neighborhood developments,” said Jones, the neighborhood affairs chairwoman of Cambridge Park subdivision.
But the proposal does have some supporters.”I probably will have a lot of neighbors who hate me after this speech,” said nearby resident Ed O’Connor. “Kroger runs a first class operation when it comes to their fuel centers unlike some of our other neighborhood choices in the community that are dirty, sell drug paraphernalia, adult magazines and have slot machines in the back,” he said. “I would love to see competition in our area and possibly have some businesses transform from poorly run gas stations to restaurants such as the Corner Pizza which use to be a gas station. ”
Doug Dillard, an attorney for Kroger, said that he would like withdrawal or defer the proposal to give more time for discussions with neighbors. He also said that the planning commission can’t recommend rejection of the proposal just because some neighbors are upset.
Abdul Amir, a traffic engineer, said that the gas station would not generate more traffic, and that a lost of fuel center customers don’t go to Kroger just for gas – they are already shopping. In fact, he said the proposal would improve traffic because of intersection improvements it would make.
The matter will go before the Brookhaven City Council on Dec. 16.