BoC mulling Highway 20 gas station again
by Joshua Sharpe
October 03, 2013 12:53 AM | 2549 views | 0 0 comments | 113 113 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — For the second time, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners may soon choose to vocalize its concerns about a developer’s plans to build a gas station at the entrance of a well-populated subdivision on Highway 20 outside Canton.

During its meeting Tuesday, the Board discussed the potential of protesting Macon-based developer Jim Rollins’ request to the city of Canton to annex and rezone 9.03 acres at the entrance of the Estates at Brooke Park to build a 4,070-square-foot gas station.

In June, Rollins withdrew a rezoning request made to Cherokee County for the same purpose after residents of the neighborhood put up a strong fight against the plans. Residents complained the gas station would worsen traffic issues at the entrance of their neighborhood, which already has problems thanks to its location just down Highway 20 from Canton Marketplace.

The Board of Commissioners accepted Rollins’ withdrawal in June but voted to “send a message” to the city of Canton outlining its worries about the plan, in case the applicant tried to have the land, which sits on the unincorporated Cherokee-Canton border, annexed into the city. At the time of that vote, there were rumors that Rollins might make such a request to Canton, commissioners said.

But Rollins said Wednesday that he hadn’t thought of annexing the land into Canton until the Board of Commissioners brought up that possibility.

“They were the ones that suggested doing this. I’m literally taking their suggestion,” Rollins said. “Thank the county commissioners.”

Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said Tuesday night the Board had until Oct. 19 if it wanted to file a legal protest of the developer’s plans. Rollins’ requests are set to be heard by the Canton Planning Commission during its meeting Nov. 18, according to the city.

If commissioners file an objection, there would be a mediation process to determine if the county’s objections were valid.

But County Attorney Angie Davis told the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night filing the objection could potentially be dangerous to the county, at least financially.

“There’s a bit of a hammer in some respects, because if we do not prevail, then we would have to pay the costs associated for both sides,” Davis said.

Considering that potential danger, Commissioner Harry Johnston said commissioners might instead vote on another statement reaffirming the county’s concerns with the proposed gas station.

Although Rollins’ request now sits before the city of Canton, Ahrens said he suspected the Board of Commissioners would still hear about the issue from residents in the Estates at Brooke Park.

“I’m sure, even though it’s city, we will be contacted by a lot of the residents of Brooke Park again and asked to have conversations with certain city council members, which I would certainly be willing to do,” the chairman said.

Johnston said the “trouble” with the developer’s request for annexation is the same as always with such requests.

“The people most affected never have any standing with the city, because they don’t get to vote in the city,” Johnston said. “It’s a real case of disenfranchisement really.”

Rollins said if the Board of Commissioners choose to oppose his gas station, it’s not his concern.

“They can do what they want to do,” he said.

But Rollins maintains his gas station, which would be a Flash Foods location, won’t be a burden on the residents in the Estates at Brooke Park.

Rollins said some resident concerns, such as those about the visibility of the station, aren’t valid.

“They keep complaining they’re going to see this (and) light is going to spill over,” he said. “I had the engineers do a line-of-sight from the houses in the subdivision, and unless they see something up in the sky reflected off the clouds, they won’t be able to see the building or the lights or the canopy or anything.”

Also during Tuesday’s meeting Commissioners:

• Voted unanimously to approve the fiscal year 2014 county budget of $167.9 million. The budget is down from $187.3 million in fiscal 2013 due mostly to reduced debt service costs and delays in parks construction;

• Unanimously approved a GEMA emergency management performance grant for $64,304. There is a 50 percent county match, County Manager Jerry Cooper said;

• Voted unanimously to approve a supplemental agreement with CW Matthews Contracting Company for additional patching and paving on Parkbrooke Drive in conjunction with work on Towne Lake Parkway and Rose Creek Drive for $24,262;

• Voted unanimously to pay $3,500 to the owner of the Painted Pig Tavern building for access to the roof to facilitate the work being done on the Jones Building; and

• Unanimously approved allowing Cooper to sign a four-year agreement with Ricoh for copy machine maintenance.

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