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Community Council Shoots Down RaceTrac Proposal

The District 4 council voted unanimously to deny the company's request to rezone almost 4 acres of residential land to commercial.

DeKalb County's District 4 Community Council unanimously shot down a proposal to rezone several acres along Lawrenceville Highway for an 18-pump RaceTrac gas station Tuesday, citing overwhelming community opposition.

The Atlanta-area gas station and market company wants the county to rezone from residential to commercial almost 4 acres – which it doesn't yet own – between Orion and Hollywood drives along the highway. It's also asking the county to approve special land use permits for the gas pumps and the sale of alcohol.

The community council, which meets at Stone Mountain Library, acts in only an advisory capacity, and their votes serve as recommendations to the county planning commission and the board of commissioners, which will have final say on the requests.

"I have seen nothing but a constant, growing, overwhelming opposition to this," said Susan Rossi, a council member, before a packed room of roughly 50 residents from the Sargent Hills neighborhood and Little Creek Farm supporters all dressed in red.

The council voted to deny the zoning and both of the special land use permits. RaceTrac officials said they considered other tracts of land along the highway – farther south, for instance – but settled only on the Orion Drive tract because it sits at a traffic light, and it's directly across the highway from their prime competition, QuikTrip.

Den Webb, an attorney representing RaceTrac, asked the council to consider the current landowner's wishes to sell the land to the gas station company. He also said the council needed to consider the proposal on legal terms.

"The fact that people don't want it should not be determining [the vote]," he said. "The thing we're not getting credit for is we are trying. ... We're focused on what we can do, and we're focused on the law."

RaceTrac has met twice with members of the surrounding community since mid-May. Residents say they are concerned the station would create dangerous traffic along their streets and runoff pollution and noise that might harm horses in neighboring Little Creek Farm, which supports equine activities. Others say they fear a popular station would lure crime and harm nearby residential property values.

RaceTrac said Wednesday they have underground water treatment equipment that will adequately handle any contaminants, and they said any station built at that location would use its outdoor speakers only in an emergency.

The rezoning and special use permit requests go before the planning commission Nov. 1. and the board of commissioners Nov. 13.

Becky October 17, 2012 at 10:15 PM
One of the reasons they gave at the meeting last night was that they must build at an intersection with a traffic light, I suppose to facilitate people accessing it from either direction of traffic. The empty car dealerships don't have traffic lights by them. But, yes, they also seem to want to be right across the street from QT which seems bizarre to me. Sounds like a playground rivalry!
Leah Salby October 18, 2012 at 12:35 AM
We need to get WSB to air this story. They were there filming some of the area of the conservancy yesterday, 10/16/12. I initiated email to WSB. They did show up, but I see no coverage yet. Contact them, call them. Call all the different channels and tell them you want media coverage on this ridiculous DeKalb County government not responding to any emails or phone calls regarding this travesty. DO IT! WSB did it for Cobb county and it was the same issue. DO IT!
Leah Salby October 22, 2012 at 01:59 PM
SHoward, they do not respond. I suggest we all go to their offices and get in their face. What else?
Laura Martin October 23, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Heard enough for me never to buy gasoline from Racetrac. Poor business model to simply copy QuikTrip's succcess.
Leah Salby November 05, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Owner did not sell to RaceTrac, but will try something else eventually. Make it green space. See new petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/dekalb-county-commissioners-rezoning-make-the-land-between-orion-and-hollywood-drives-green-space

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