Residents ready for fight against gas station plan
by Joshua Sharpe
November 16, 2013 09:59 PM | 2361 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Al Bensimon, a resident at The Estates at Brooke Park in Canton, hangs a sign outside the neighborhood to help get the word out about the neighborhood’s fight against a proposed gas station at its entrance. The Canton Planning Commission on Monday night is scheduled to consider the requests of developer Jim Rollins to annex and rezone 9.03 acres at the entrance of the neighborhood near Canton Marketplace to build a Flash Foods. <br> Staff/Todd Hull
Al Bensimon, a resident at The Estates at Brooke Park in Canton, hangs a sign outside the neighborhood to help get the word out about the neighborhood’s fight against a proposed gas station at its entrance. The Canton Planning Commission on Monday night is scheduled to consider the requests of developer Jim Rollins to annex and rezone 9.03 acres at the entrance of the neighborhood near Canton Marketplace to build a Flash Foods.
Staff/Todd Hull
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CANTON — Residents in the Estates at Brooke Park are preparing to stand their ground against a Macon-based developer’s plans to build a gas station at the only entrance of their neighborhood on Highway 20.

The Canton Planning Commission on Monday night is scheduled to consider the requests of developer Jim Rollins to annex and rezone 9.03 acres at the entrance of the neighborhood near Canton Marketplace to build a Flash Foods.

Al Bensimon of the Estates at Brooke Park’s homeowners association said his neighborhood has big concerns and many are planning to attend the meeting to show their opposition to the plans.

“We have rallied the neighborhood,” Bensimon said Friday. “We’re going to have a very large showing of residents at the meeting. We’re coming completely prepared and as a community in unanimity for suppressing this once in for all.”

Estates at Brooke Park residents have voiced their concerns about the potential 24-hour gas station, including its environmental impact, noise, lighting, traffic and impact on property values.

Those worries are the same ones Bensimon and his neighbors raised before Cherokee County official earlier this year when Rollins was asking to have the land rezoned, before the Cherokee Planning Commission shot down the plans in June.

Rollins, however, has consistently argued his plans wouldn’t have a negative impact on the neighborhood and that the concerns the residents have raised were blown out of proportion. He has also recently been met with impassioned opposition from residents in Holly Springs about his plans to build gas stations at the north entrance of Harmony on the Lakes, and some in Cherokee County are considering how to stop his company, the Summit Group’s potential plans for a gas station on the site of the historic Bell’s Store.

As evidence of the Estates at Brooke Park’s opposition, Bensimon said the neighborhood has presented a petition to the city with the signatures of more than 120 residents who have signed on to stop the gas station. The neighborhood has about 140 homes.

But the petition won’t be the first hint the city of Canton and the planning commission have received that the neighborhood is against the plans.

Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood said Friday that the city has heard from many of the residents expressing a “wide variety of concerns.”

Of the people whom Hobgood is aware of reaching out to the city, he said none have been in favor of the gas station.

Pat Gold, chairwoman of the Canton Planning Commission, also said she wasn’t aware of anyone who liked the idea.

“I haven’t gotten any info at all from anybody who was in favor,” Gold said, adding the planning commission has received a “fairly thick stack” of letters from concerned residents.

As the chairwoman of the commission, Gold only votes in the case of a tie and said she wasn’t sure how the rest of the board will decide to vote after the hearing. But the planning commission will discuss what to do about Rollins’ requests during its meeting at 6 p.m. and will hold a public hearing on the plans at 7 p.m., Gold said.

After that, the commission will most likely move ahead and make its recommendation to the Canton City Council, which will get the final say.

Hobgood said he was pretty sure members of the city council had already been hearing from the neighbors.

Like Gold, Hobgood doesn’t vote with the council, but he said he does have a few concerns about the potential of a gas station ending up on this spot on Highway 20.

“The access concerns me more than anything else,” the mayor said. “I don’t know how you get in and out that close to that intersection without interrupting the flow (of traffic). I don’t know how you do that. There may be some way, I just don’t know.”

But considering the Estates at Brooke Park’s proximity to Canton Marketplace, Hobgood believes the piece of land will likely be developed in some way, eventually.

Residents in Brooke Park tend to agreed with that notion, but have said they just wish the development wasn’t a gas station.

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