of Stockbridge residents has been voicing opposition to a
proposed commercial development in their neighborhood for
the past few months, and last week the Henry County Board of
Commissioners heard some of these concerns at its regular
monthly meeting, even as county officials move forward with
approval of a land disturbance permit for the development.
in question is on the south side of Walt Stephens Road next
to Red Oak Elementary School and the Monarch Village
residential subdivision. It was rezoned by the city for
commercial use in 2006, and no one has disputed that the
Family Dollar store development would be a permitted use
under the current zoning.
opposition has stirred since development plans for the site
were submitted a few months ago. Among the reasons cited to
oppose the plan are increased traffic, decreasing property
values and the presence of an existing Dollar General store
less than a quarter-mile away, directly across the street
from the Monarch Village main entrance.
have spoken out about the city’s possible role in preventing
the development, including the city’s possible purchase of
the property. Citizens who addressed the commissioners on
the issue suggested the site could be converted to some type
of green space or other community use.
petition created to protest the development has garnered
more than 2,000 signatures, petition organizers have said.
Organized protests in recent months have also gotten the
attention of Atlanta television news crews.
Stockbridge City Councilman Anthony Ford, also the president
of the Monarch Village homeowners association, told the
commissioners at their July 15 meeting that the city is
looking at “options” regarding the property, although he did
not specify what any of those options are.
officials made it clear at the meeting that the county will
have no say in whether Family Dollar is built at the site.
county’s involvement stems from its role in the performance
of permitting and inspection services for the city under the
existing service delivery strategy agreement. When a
development application is submitted for property in
Stockbridge, that application is processed by the county’s
building and environmental compliance departments just as if
the site were in unincorporated Henry County.
Development plans for the proposed Family Dollar site were
submitted in December and forwarded to Stockbridge’s former
city planner, according to county attorney LaTonya Wiley,
who addressed the audience at the meeting at the request of
District V Commissioner Bruce Holmes, in whose district the
site is located. Holmes also forwarded to the Times a copy
of a recent written opinion on the matter by Wiley.
“It is my
understanding that those plans were recently re-submitted by
the developer and upon review, have met all internal,
administrative requirements,” Wiley wrote. “Accord-ingly,
there is no basis for denying the issuance of the LDP [land
disturbance permit] to the developer.”
to Wiley, assistant county manager Cheri Mathews sent a
notice to Stockbridge officials that said essentially the
has been a common practice for the county to forward
development plans to the city for review, I can find no
binding regulation that requires city approval to issue the
LDP,” Matthews wrote. “I understand that there have been a
number of concerns raised by the residents, but at this
time, the county must proceed with the issuance of the LDP.”
summarized the county’s position with the following
“The county has no role to
play in whether or not a Family Dollar store should be
located on this site. Our only role is to ensure that
whatever commercial structure is developed at this location
meets applicable building and environmental rules and
regulations that the county is ultimately charged with
enforcing. Because all such rules and regulations have been
satisfied to date, the LDP must be issued.”