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Chick-fil-A inches closer to a relocation on N. Druid Hills Road

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Chick-fil-A inches closer to a relocation on N. Druid Hills Road

Rendering of the plans for a new fast food restaurant on N. Druid Hills Road, submitted by Chick-fil-A.

By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor 

Greater Decatur, GA — Why did the Chick-fil-A move down the road? To build a bigger restaurant.

After months of deferrals and community input, DeKalb County Planning Commissioners on Jan. 6 voted to recommend the fast food restaurant’s plan to relocate from 3905 N. Druid Hills to the former Pier 1 property at 3795 N. Druid Hills Road.

The model is three drive-thru lanes and walk-up service with limited outdoor seating. It was deferred twice in 2021.

It’s a .3 mile move that caused quite the dust up with neighbors in Laurel Ridge-Shamrock. Complaints ranged from increased traffic to environmental concerns, and one resident who feared losing her property to road expansion.

Chick-fil-A’s plan includes rezoning the new site from NS district (Neighborhood Shopping) to C-1 district (Local Commercial) and a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) to allow a drive-thru restaurant on the property.

Several opponents of the plan asked for yet another deferral. They said a wait-and-see approach would provide more context to how the mall redevelopment and DeKalb County’s master transportation plan will affect the area.

“We need to consider the whole area. How are we developing our neighborhood, our community so that it enhances the property value? I feel like the mall is very pivotal in this, and I would like to see this project wait …” said Janeah Saadeh, an area business owner and resident.

But commissioners were tired of hearing the same messages they’d heard in prior meetings – not only from residents, but also from Chick-fil-A.

“It’s been a long night,” said Planning Commission Chair Tess Snipes.

Commissioner April Atkins said that going into the discussion, she was against approving the motion. She asked for an immediate solution, rather than waiting for North DeKalb Mall development plans or county-led traffic studies. She got it.

“At the beginning, I was definitely not in favor of this. But because the developer is willing to put together a development agreement and take all of the costs related to make these improvements that will happen faster than we can get a traffic study on N. Druid Hills Road let alone improvements to the infrastructure,” said Atkins.

A development agreement will be drafted to allow cars to turn right into and out of the site from Birch Road and N. Druid Hills Road. Chick-fil-A has “worked extensively” with DeKalb planning staff, said attorney David Kirk, and will continue to do so.

“It would be appropriate for the county to perform the construction, but Chick-fil-A would participate in that from a financial standpoint,” said Kirk. “It’s really a matter of working out the details.”

Planning Commission is recommending approval of the rezoning and SLUP with conditions to DeKalb County Board of Commissioners. It will be presented at the Jan. 27 BOC meeting.

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