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Family Dollar protest moves to BOC


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

  A group 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.

  The site 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.

  Local 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.

  Residents 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.

  A 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.

  County officials made it clear at the meeting that the county will have no say in whether Family Dollar is built at the site.

  The 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.”

  According to Wiley, assistant county manager Cheri Mathews sent a notice to Stockbridge officials that said essentially the same thing.

  “While it 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.”

  Wiley summarized the county’s position with the following statement:

  “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.”



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