City Council hears Harmony residents’ gas station gripes
by Michelle Babcock
December 03, 2013 11:55 PM | 1563 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HOLLY SPRINGS — Residents in the Harmony on the Lakes subdivision spoke out at the Holly Springs City Council work session on Monday about their worries about a Macon-based developer’s plans to build a 24-hour gas station just outside of their neighborhood.

Three residents voiced their concerns during the public comment portion of the council’s work session about the proposed annexation and rezoning of the 3.2-acre property on Hickory Flat Highway that would allow for a gas station to be constructed across from the north entrance of the massive subdivision.

One Holly Springs resident, Brian Murray, said he “cannot see a need” for another gas station.

“Most of my neighbors I talked to can’t see a need for it either. It brings a lot of risk, in that it could cause environmental issues long-term if it shuts down. It leaves us in a really bad spot,” Murray said. “There’s traffic issues and things like that, that could potentially be addressed. But in general, it seems like we’re trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.”

Resident Dan Asperger also spoke, saying there are other zoning options for the land in question.

“I realize that this annexation is consistent with the community agenda and the 20-year plan the city has,” Asperger said. “Our concern is the specific location of the application in question.”

The 3.2-acre property, located at 3907 and 3925 Hickory Flat Highway in Canton, was up for a vote to annex and rezone it before the Holly Springs City Council Oct. 21, but the developer pulled the request prior to the meeting. According to the applicant, Jim Rollins, he rescinded the request to make changes and address residents’ concerns in a letter before resubmitting the request to council.

Another resident, Roger McIver, brought up the proposed rezoning stipulations that have been made with the applicant.

“What protection do we, the public, have against future violations of zoning conditions?” McIver asked the council. “How can we guarantee that those stipulations will be enforced, that there’s not changes made to them in the future?”

The current plan for the proposed site includes eight gas pumps, while the original gas station plan included 10 gas pumps. Additionally, a stipulation was added to the request, preventing gaming machines from being placed at the location.

Though requesting permission to operate the station 24 hours a day, Rollins said in the letter that “if there is no late-night business, the store will close between 1 and 5 a.m.”

Councilman Michael Zenchuk asked what measurement would be used to judge if the store should close in the early morning hours and how that would be determined.

Zenchuk asked if there was a specific number of sales or customers that would merit remaining open, or if it was “purely speculative that it would ever happen.” Zenchuk said that the Flash Foods gas station would be the only station operating 24 hours in the city of Holly Springs.

Rollins said the business would have to justify the cost of the employees and the lights staying on in order for the gas station to remain open 24 hours, but said there was no specific measurement to determine that.

Councilwoman Karen Barnett brought up another concern from residents, and asked Rollins about the layout of the gas station and which direction it would face.

Rollins said the store would face Hickory Flat Highway, but would be to the left of the entrance into Harmony on the Lakes.

Councilwoman Dee Phillips asked if the trucks filling the station’s gas tanks would be visible from the Harmony on the Lakes entrance, if they would be filled in front of the building.

Rollins said yes, because that would allow for the attendant to see both the pumps and tanks, as required by fire marshal regulations. Rollins said this was a typical gas station layout.

Murray said it makes sense to move the proposed gas station a couple of blocks away from the subdivision.

“As a taxpayer and voting citizen, I really don’t want to see a gas station right across the street from my neighborhood,” Murray said.

Asperger said that he, and other residents, wanted to see the plan for land use on the 3.2-acre property, and asked the council to consider zoning the land as Neighborhood Commercial instead of General Commercial.

“If you should choose to do this, are we going to exit our subdivision looking directly into a convenience store?” he asked. “We would hope that this city council would consider, as you annex property along Highway 140 or other highways in this city that you consider at that time of your annexation, ‘what is the proximity of this property relative to residential developments? How far are you from homes that people have invested in prior to your annexation?’”

The city council will have its next meeting on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. in the courtroom and Council Chambers at Holly Springs City Hall.

During the city council work session Monday night, the council also:

• Discussed the municipal complex parking lot design and seeking competitive bids for repaving;

• Discussed the annual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Stormwater report;

• Discussed the standing committees of the council; and

• Discussed 2014 appointments for the Main Street Board, Board of Appeals, and Planning & Zoning Commission.



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