Representatives of Family Dollar, the chain of discount home goods, clothing and grocery stores, spoke to the City Council about their desire to rezone a parcel in the city to clear the way for a new store at 2570 Beaver Ruin Rd. at Light Circle.
The parcel is currently zoned O-I for Office-Industrial use and would need to be zoned C-2 for general business, according to a statement from City Planner Chris McCrary. The Planning and Zoning Committee recommended denial of the request to rezone recently citing land use and site plan issues—and some citizens have spoken out against the idea--but the developers seem eager to make adjustments to make it work.
A public hearing must take place for a rezoning, and this one will be held at the February general council meeting.
Brant Aden, a representative of Family Dollar from the Foresite Group, said that he has been working with the retailer for many years. “Over the recession, Family Dollar has been growing exponentially,” said Aden. He said that between 450 and 500 new stores are planned in 2012.
Aden said that the location, with the presence of residential properties near a main artery, has the right formula for a highly successful store. And, he thinks the store would add value for the people who live there as well. With but two citizens in a nearby neighborhood disagree.
“I agree that Beaver Ruin can use a face life but not with the store that’s on ticket for it,” said Arlene Beckles, a resident of the Creekside neighborhood on Beaver Ruin Road.
Jennifer Rogers-Kunda, another resident of Creekside, pointed to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, saying that the use simply does not line up. (The city reported stated the the Norcross Comp Plan calls for an Educational, Recreational & Arts Activity Center in the area.) She said that she definitely doesn’t want to hinder development, she’d just like it to be done smartly.
“The city’s future land use map identifies this general area to be developed for office land uses,” the city report stated. “The proximity to residential developments, low density residential lots, a place of worship and existing professional office uses makes the proposed retail development inappropriate at this location.”
The report also raised a red flag about the size of the property, questioning the space for landscape strips and buffers. The representatives said that Family Dollar has agreed to acquire an additional parcel for $90,000 to address those concerns should the deal go through.
Kunda, who is involved in the Safe Routes to School program at Summerour Middle School, also said that the intersection has been identified as a “hot spot” for SRTS—and she believes that the development could make it even more difficult for the students to find a safe path to walk or bike to school.
The representatives spoke directly to the concerned citizens during their presentation to the council, expressing their desire to work together, potentially holding a community meeting to be sure that everyone is on board before any development takes place.