Council sacks 'no light' idea for 54W

A proposal to oppose a traffic light on Ga. Highway 54 West at Line Creek Drive for a proposed shopping center failed to gain council muster Thursday night.

Councilman George Dienhart’s motion was for council to oppose a traffic light permit controlled by GDOT and also forbid a road connection from the shopping center to Planterra Way. The vote failed with abstentions from councilmembers Eric Imker, Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard, which are counted as “no” votes.

Prior to the vote, Learnard explained that she, Imker, Fleisch and Haddix previously have voted in favor of a special use permit for the site that prevented a connection to Planterra Way. She also implied that GDOT might determine the light is necessary for citizens’ safety.

“My suggestion would be that you go on the record as agreeing with us with our already well documented vote in 2011,” Learnard said to Dienhart.

Fleisch said one of the reasons she was abstaining was that she didn’t have any raw data to consider, as none was provided in the council packet. She also said she wouldn’t vote on what for now is a hypothetical concept, adding that the property has been zoned for commercial use since 1977.

The issue has been pushed by Dienhart, as no formal presentation has been made to council and no formal application has been filed for a special use permit that would almost certainly be necessary for a grocery store to be located on the site of what is being called The Overlook shopping center.

Friday morning, Dienhart contacted The Citizen and noted that council members have been briefed about the developer’s plan for the site in private “two-by-two” meetings. The developer has not yet, however, filed for a special use permit that would be necessary to have a large-size grocery store on the site.

Typically such permits are reviewed first by city staff and then the planning commission prior to a final up-or-down vote from council.

That process can take months, but Dienhart has said he is in a rush to get the matter handled before he has to resign from office, a necessity for him to run for mayor since he is in the middle of a four-year term as a regular council member.

The Overlook is located on the same parcel that will feature a RaceTrac gas station directly off Hwy. 54, with plans for a Chick-fil-A restaurant immediately next door that have already been approved by the planning commission. It is not known if those two uses alone might project to have enough traffic to warrant a light.

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