A RaceTrac gas station was approved for the corner of Oak Road and Highway 124 during last night's council meeting - but it's not just any old RaceTrac.
According to City Planner Jon Davis, eighteen variances were required to approve the new gas station for its proposed location. Most of the ordinances, according to Davis, revolved around the sign ordinance.
To make a long story short(ish), the council has already discussed changing the sign ordinance for the city as it relates to LED lighting. So, that wasn't too big of an issue.
A larger point of contention, however, was the issue of the 4-foot landscape buffer between the road and the sidewalk. RaceTrac wants to use pavers instead of grass. Davis, on the other hand, along with other city staff, does not believe the pavers are a good idea.
For one, the rest of Highway 124 has grass, so there's the matter of uniformity. Second, Davis stated that pedestrians walking on the sidewalk would not feel as safe with pavers rather than grass, because it gives the impression that there is nothing separating the sidewalk from the road.
The pavers look like large bricks and are level with the road and sidewalk.
The building will eventually be a 5,000 square-foot neighborhood market, rather than just a gas station, according to RaceTrac representative Justin Abernathy. It will have a frozen yogurt bar, coffee bar, fresh deli sandwiches, seating inside and outside for patrons, and free WiFi. It will be aesthetically pleasing, as well.
This will be one of only eight in all of Georgia, and is a new concept, according to Sean MacLaurin, former Snellville resident and additional RaceTrac rep.
It will employ between 30-40 people and is "unlike any other convenient store or gas station you’ve seen," according to MacLaurin.
Snellville resident Kurt Schulz spoke in favor of the RaceTrac, saying that he and his wife, Gretchen, live near the proposed location, and in their forty-something years, that spot has always been an eyesore.
"Slowly but surely," he said, "Snellville is getting rid of all these eyesores. This will be a major improvement to the city."
Council woman Diane Krause made a motion to approve, seconded by councilman Mike Sabbagh. The motion passed unanimously.
"This is good business coming to town," said councilman Sabbagh. "The economy has fallen, and Snellville had a share of that, but we're on our way up."
The last time the new facility was discussed during a council meeting, a few residents spoke out in opposition.
Feroz Lilani, owner of The Market, told the council that there already six gas stations on five or six blocks in that area.
“Do we need a seventh one?” he asked. “If the RaceTrac comes, we will lose stores in town. It won’t increase the revenue, and it will be a lot of stress on small businesses.”
He accused the council of claiming to support small business, but that “this is a discouragement."
This time, however, no one spoke out against it.