Led by Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards, the commission voted 5-2, with Commissioners Liz Hausmann and Tom Lowe opposed, to nix a potential 9,000-square foot development by Brian Sullivan of Perimeter Mall-based developer Sullivan Wickley Properties, owner and Sandy Springs-based real estate agent Robert S. Jordan and Memphis-Tenn.-based developer Dunavant Enterprises.
The county department of planning and community services had recommended denial of the application.
Residents representing 200 households in the nearby Bradford Crossing and Joshua Crossing subdivisions protested the developer’s request to abandon a plan to install a traffic signal at the nearly 2-acre property’s entrance at Bethsaida Road because the Georgia Department of Transportation decline to install one at that point on Jonesboro Road, which is state route 138.
Sullivan said he tried to make it work.
“I sat down with GDOT. They responded in writing that the warrants would not support a signal here,” he said about the entrance. “They would consider a traffic signal at the intersection of Jonesboro and Bethsaida. I’m willing to pay for a light at the intersection, just not at the project entrance because I’m not able to get GDOT to approve it.”
Community representative Marc Michael said he agreed with Vice Chair Emma Darnell’s opinion the county must balance health and safety concerns with economic growth.
“The people of south Fulton would love to see growth. The signalization is a safety concern. There have been deaths, multiple deaths, that have been traffic accidents,” he said. “The people of south Fulton are simply concerned that removing this provision that the commission asked for last time puts us in a position of eliminating the health and safety portion without any consideration.”
Applicant attorney Pete Hendricks said a denial of the zoning modification would create a hardship for his clients, who hired Midtown law firm Robbins Ross Alloy Belinfante Littlefield to bring a lawsuit against the county.
“It is rendering the property practically undevelopable and stripping it of any real economic value,” Hendricks said. “We need to figure our way through amelioration of traffic concerns but we are simply not capable of achieving [a traffic signal].”
Edwards said not being able to install a traffic light was not a good enough reason to proceed with development.
“You have not shown me by way of actual data outside what somebody has said why we don’t need it. There is nothing that would change my mind,” he said to Sullivan about the applicant’s original request in March. “You agreed along with the community there was a safety issue. We all agree on something and that is there is a safety issue.”