The Woodstock City Council unanimously approved plans by RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. to build a gas station on less than 2.5 acres north of Ridgewalk Parkway, west of Rope Mill Road and adjacent to Interstate 575, at its meeting Monday.
Attorney Parks Huff represented RaceTrac, and said the company worked with residents in the Meridian subdivision and addressed their main concerns: visibility, noise and light.
Huff said the gas station will be screened off from the subdivision with trees and landscaping.
“We have a generous landscaping plan,” Huff said.
The RaceTrac will use soft LED lighting, and the company agreed to only allow large, noisy trucks during the day, while smaller trucks and non-disruptive deliveries can be made overnight, said Katie Coulborn, Woodstock Community Development long-range planner.
Crissy Tinsley said she lives on Ridgewalk Parkway and can’t wait for the gas station.
“As much as I love the new on and off ramps, I am unable to use them because there is no gas station,” Tinsley said. “I have to go to the Shell and then proceed on Towne Lake Parkway. As much as I do love the Shell, it’s not as convenient with it not being on the road I live on.”
Tinsley said it would be great to have a place to stop for breakfast, coffee, gas and lottery tickets on her way onto the interstate.
“If we were to have a gas station on Ridgewalk Parkway, we’d have a convenient place to stop before proceeding onto the highway,” she said.
But not all residents were happy with the idea of another gas station in the area.
Woodstock resident Ron Schaefer said the Towne Lake Parkway and Highway 92 area is already congested, and asked city officials to “put the brakes on” the gas station plan.
“I would like for the council to step back, revisit the land use there, perhaps turn it into park land,” he said. “Our neighborhood has already been encroached upon … it just seems that there’s an imbalance between residential and commercial use that is just unwarranted.”
The gas station will have three entrances, two “right-in only” entrances on Ridgewalk Parkway and one entrance on Rope Mill Road, but only one exit.
The single exit onto Rope Mill Road was suggested by city staff to help prevent gas station customers from interfering with traffic merging onto Interstate 575, Coulborn said.
Theresa Goodaker co-owns and operates the Towne Lake Parkway Shell gas station with her husband and said the new RaceTrac will put her gas station out of business, again.
“We used to own a gas station in Canton, but unfortunately we lost that business shortly after a RaceTrac opened up next to us,” she said. “To this day, that property remains abandoned and vacant, an eyesore in Canton. Now, here we go again, worried we’re going to lose everything we have worked so hard for, for so many years. Worried we’re going to lose the millions of dollars we have invested in that corner.”
She said her gas station is a little more than a mile from the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, and she and her husband put their “blood, sweat and tears” into the business. Goodaker said “large corporate gas stations” like the RaceTrac “destroy local business.”
“We’ve been residents of Cherokee County for 13 years,” she said. “There’s so much competition, there are so many other gas stations in the area. In fact, there are two other gas stations across the street from us that are closed, and they have been closed for quite some time. Why? Because there simply isn’t enough business to go around.”
Charles Goodaker could barely hold back tears as he explained how he and his wife’s 11-year-old gas station would be put out of business by the new RaceTrac.
“I’ve paid my taxes every single year,” he said as he held back tears as he spoke to the city council Monday. “I just can’t do this, I just can’t stand here and tell you my argument.”
Goodaker said he thought the new RaceTrac would attract trucks from the highway and become a truck stop.
“They’re not looking to serve the neighborhood, they’re looking to serve the highway,” he said. “I completely oppose this.”
Huff responded by saying the RaceTrac will be “a convenience store, not a truck stop.”
He said 20 or 30 residents came to a public participation meeting, and “none of them are at the meeting” because the company has worked with them and addressed their concerns.