Coweta denies Kohl’s, other retailers at Fischer Crossing
The Coweta County Commission in a split vote Tuesday night sided with the property owners of the long-established Featherston Fishing Club at Wynn’s Pond and denied a rezoning proposal that would have placed a Kohl’s department store and other retailers on the northeast corner of the large Fischer Crossing development at Ga. Highway 34 and Fischer Road in east Coweta County.
The board last week conducted public hearings on the request by the Fischer Crossing Development Group to locate 225,500 square feet of commercial space for Kohl’s, T.J. Maxx and other retailers in a portion of a 35-acre site located just north of the previously approved northeast corner of Fischer Road and Hwy. 34. The public hearing was continued to the meeting Tuesday.
There was little discussion once the public hearing concluded. Commissioner Randolph Collins made a motion to deny the rezoning request, followed by a second by Commissioner Tim Lassetter. The vote was 3-2, with Commissioner Paul Poole also voting to deny the request and commissioners Al Smith and Rodney Brooks opposed.
Developer Scott Seymour in the request said he wanted to use the additional acreage for the Kohl’s anchor store and other retailers and, immediately to the north of the retail, to create three perpetual-use community football fields and a daycare center. Seymour has a letter of intent from Kohl’s for the development.
The property was originally intended for a septic area until Seymour bought in to the county’s sewer system, making that use of the property unnecessary.
Commenting on the rezoning denial, Seymour on Wednesday said, “For the commission to deny Kohl’s and other Class A tenants which would have had a great economic impact for the county shows that some on the commission are serving the Featherston Fishing Club at Wynn’s Pond and not the people of Coweta County.”
Seymour also noted that, except for the mention of needed jobs and sales tax and property tax revenue by Commissioner Smith prior to the vote, the board failed to address those factors at both meetings.
The vote Tuesday night to deny the rezoning was followed by another on a request to abandon, or relocate, the portion of Wynn’s Pond Road nearest to Fischer Road. Seymour’s proposal would have re-worked the road to wrap around the development and intersect with Fischer Road on the north side of the ballfields.
The unanimous denial was followed by another vote that instructed county staff to return later with a proposal that would realign the road from where it currently intersects with Fischer Road approximately 100 feet from the entrance to the Sam’s Club under construction across the street.
There were to be four other public hearings Tuesday night pertaining to the Fischer Crossing development. Those included a conditional use permit for the football fields, the daycare center, a buffer reduction and a setback variance. Those items were put on hold by the commission until county staff can check with GRTA (Georgia Regional Transportation Authority) that previously approved the entire development.
The question remains as to whether the commission’s denial of the relocation of Wynn’s Pond Road and Seymour’s subsequent inability to cross the existing portion of the road (per the commission’s previous agreement with Featherston) to access the portion of the development to the north will be at odds with GRTA’s requirement for interparcel access through the entire development.
The rezoning and road abandonment requests were recommended for approval by the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals but recommended for denial by the county Planning and Zoning Department. The recommendation for denial was based significantly on an agreement approved by commissioners in 2006 and 2007 designed to protect Wynn’s Pond Road and the adjacent historic neighborhood and the failure of the developer to obtain 100 percent agreement of the Wynn’s Pond community. Another reason for the recommendation cited concerns that Wynn’s Pond Road, if rerouted to the north, would affect future transportation funding.
Other portions of the Fischer Crossing development include the 136,000 square-foot Sam’s Club and 40,000 square-foot NCG Cinemas now under construction. In total, commissioners previously approved several hundred thousand square feet of retail for the expansive development that was indicated in the county’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Map.
The project received previous approval as a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) from the Three Rivers Regional Commission along with approval from the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA).