CANTON — Residents of a well-populated subdivision on Highway 20 near Canton Marketplace were pleased Tuesday night when a county board voted to shoot down a developer’s plans to build a gas station at the entrance of their neighborhood.
Jim Rollins of Peach Consolidated Properties came before the Cherokee Planning Commission at its meeting Tuesday night to plead the case for his proposed gas station at the entrance of the Estates at Brooke Park.
But in the wake of strong concerns from residents, the nine-member commission was not receptive to Rollins’ proposal, which would have rezoned 3.5 acres near the only entrance of the neighborhood.
The planning board voted 8-to-1 to recommend denial of Rollins’ request, with only commission member Joe Long voting to approve.
Long did not say why he chose to approve.
One resident, Stan Hathcock, said he and his neighbors in the subdivision already have issues with traffic and a gas station at their entrance would only contribute to it.
He also said that they were “frustrated” to be defending their neighborhood from another rezoning, when they had to come before the planning commission just four years ago for the same purpose.
“We feel encroached upon, because now we’re coming back (years later),” Hathcock said. “If you want to eliminate Brooke Park, then rezone the entire neighborhood.”
Hathcock asked the commission to deny Rollins’ request and protect their neighborhood, which has seen increases in traffic in recent years because of other developments on Highway 20.
“We as citizens of the county need to have confidence in our governmental institutions,” he said. “We want the Planning Commission, we want the Board of Commissioners to reaffirm that the citizens, the residents of the county are what’s important, not the pocketbook of a developer.”
The crowd of about 80 residents who came to hear the planning commission’s take on the case erupted in applause as Hathcock finished speaking.
Another resident, Diane Minick, spoke out against the potential development arguing that the lay of the land could cause issues with drainage.
Minick, who said she was an authority on storm water presented maps of the property to the planning commission and urged the members to take into account what she said could be serious issues with the site.
“Storm water is usually one of the last things we think about when we put buildings on the ground,” she said. “But today, we’re finding we have to begin to think about that more than ever on the front end because it’s such a destructive force.”
Minick said a small creek running through the property could carry pollutants from the gas station.
“It’s less than a mile down that little creek to the Etowah River,” she said. “And there are endangered species (there).”
Rollins said traffic would not be an issue because his gas station would not bring new drivers to this spot on Highway 20, but only give passersby a place to stop, get what they need and leave.
“A convenience store is not a destination location,” Rollins said. “It’s a convenience. If you’re driving by and you need gas, you stop.”
He also defended Minick’s statements on drainage issues on his site.
“We have no more runoff or congestion than the RaceTrac that’s already been approved up the street,” he said. “We will comply with all laws and regulations regarding discharge and retention.”
Rollins also offered to sign a contract guaranteeing that he would leave the rest of the property, which is about 9 acres, undeveloped.
Rollins’ request now goes to the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners for final approval or denial.