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Tucker residents resist new plan for Chick-fil-A relocation

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Tucker residents resist new plan for Chick-fil-A relocation

The Chick-fil-A restaurant at 4340 Hugh Howell Road in Tucker on Jan. 19, 2022. A plan to build a new three-lane drive-thru restaurant nearby at 4435 Hugh Howell Road, the former site of Greater Good BBQ, has met resistance from residents of Rosser Terrace. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA — Chick-fil-A continued making its case to residents during the 10th meeting about relocating its store to 4435 Hugh Howell Road from 4340 Hugh Howell Road, offering up a new plan for the project.

Residents are still opposed to the idea.

The application for four variances and one Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) is a year in the making. Chick-fil-A has been back and forth between Tucker Planning Commission, Tucker City Council and meetings with residents, trying to “make a square peg fit into a round hole” as one resident put it.

Since May 2021, residents have fought Chick-fil-A’s proposal to access the property from Rosser Terrace. Residents have long complained about poor road conditions, speeding vehicles and cut through traffic on Rosser Terrace from Tucker Industrial Road to Hugh Howell. But when Chick-fil-A applied to create a bigger drive-thru model, residents became more vocal.

Fast-forward to April, when Chick-fil-A amended their plan, adding access from Dillard Street. Residents on Dillard Crossing were not notified by letter, due to the city of Tucker’s rule to alert residents within 500 feet of a property.

Now residents on both streets are in the fight.

Chick-fil-A would raze this building on Dillard Street to create access to the site on Hugh Howell. Photo by Logan C. Ritchie.

At the May 9 Tucker City Council meeting, Chick-fil-A representative Jennifer Santelli said the current application – the 12th iteration – is a great redevelopment opportunity for the city.

Santelli said it’s a “safer, more efficient site plan and building that will allow team members and guests to enjoy the restaurant’s hospitality with less frustration.”

A dozen residents spoke against the application, and they weren’t less frustrated. Kristen and Robert Jenkins said Chick-fil-A has added adversaries with the Dillard Street plan.

“You’re not a good neighbor by saying, hey, you 12 people are mad, so let’s make 300 people mad. A solution to dump all this traffic onto Dillard is not an acceptable solution to these members of our community. They’re not directly in our neighborhood – but they are our neighbors,” said Kristen Jenkins.

Chick-fil-A is looking out for its business and damn the consequences of those around them, said resident Robert Jenkins.

“I can’t support the approval of this SLUP and variances because of the negative impact that it would have on my neighbors, regardless of any convenience or benefits that this project might have for me,” said Robert Jenkins. “This is an attempt to make a square peg fit in a round hole. And while their drafters keep whittling and sanding away at the edges of that peg, it’s still not round, and it’s still not going to fit.”

Dillard Crossing residents described narrowed lanes due to street parking, lack of sidewalks, pedestrian traffic and ill-timed traffic signals on Cowan Road.

“This is a very straightforward matter of what you’re about as a council. Are we going to inconvenience residents for the convenience of Chick-fil-A?” said Jared Ames.

At one point during public comment, Mayor Frank Auman reminded attendees to follow protocol at the podium.

Rosser Terrace resident Martin Tulis, who stopped to eat at Chick-fil-A on his way to the City Council meeting, said, “If this has been not one, or two, or three, but four variances and the 12th iteration to put this business on this parcel, that should be a red flag. How long have we been monkeying around with this?”

Alicia Simon said Dillard Street access will be “a disaster.”

“In speaking for many of my neighbors in Dillard Crossing, we are adamantly against any entrance or exit of Chick fil A on that street,” said Simon.

One resident spoke in favor of Chick-fil-A, calling the company “a good neighbor” for supporting local schools, churches and sports teams.

Kristen Jenkins disagreed.

“Chick fil A is a bad neighbor. They have spent a year forcing this location. They started without a traffic study. They started without even knowing our own road names. They didn’t know anything about our neighborhood. They had not researched our neighborhood. They didn’t care. They just wanted to move their location so they could get more business,” said Jenkins.

Tucker Planning Commission will review the deferred application on May 19. Chick-fil-A is scheduled for a second read and public hearing at the June 13 City Council meeting.

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