A Duluth developer's request for a conditional use permit to build a thrift store on property in front of an Alpharetta subdivision was rejected by Alpharetta's Planning Commission at its meeting Thursday at City Hall.
The commission sent a recommendation to deny the zoning request to City Council, which will hear the application on Monday, Feb. 27.
SRJ Enterprises owns the almost 6-acre parcel on North Main Street that is in front of Winthrope Park, and across the street from a consignment shop and Campbell Tire. James Kim told the Planning Commission that the property already is approved for a 40,000-square-foot retail center. But the economy that has left vacant strip centers all over the city makes building that project unlikely.
Kim said he did have a potential buyer lined up for a 25,000-square-foot thrift store. He said it would be a less intense use with less traffic.
Community Development staff recommended against the thrift store. Director Diana Wheeler said traffic generated by a thrift store is greater than a retail store. The thrift store not only has a retail component, it also has a recycling component and is a drop-off site.
Kim based much of his argument for the location on his belief that City Council rejected a Goodwill thrift store zoning request a few years ago at the intersection of Cogburn and North Main Street because that property was zoned C-1. He said the city told Goodwill it should look for C-2 property.
Wheeler explained that a thrift store is a conditional use on C-2 property–which is how this site is zoned. She also said there were other reasons why the Goodwill rezoning had been rejected, many of which were similar to why staff recommended this rezoning should be rejected as well.
Winthrope Park and other city residents opposed the thrift store for several reasons, including:
- Traffic–Motorists already use their residential street for a turnaround spot with disregard for children and other pedestrians, and they say this would make it worse.
- Property values–Any commercial development would lower their property values, but a thrift store would be enough to make some residents plan to move.
- Drop-offs at all hours of the day and night–People drop off items including large appliances, even if the store says it won't take them, even in the very early hours of the day.
For more on what the local residents, the developer and Planning Commission had to say, view the accompanying video.