As requested by District 7 Councilman Howard Shook, who represents the area, and by a vote of 12-2, the council last week deferred the zoning ordinance, which would allow Walmart and Fuqua Development to create the new location off Piedmont Road.
If the committee approves Fuqua CEO Jeff Fuqua’s proposed rezoning and land-use changes, the proposal will go back to city council next month. A date has not been set yet.
“If the Buckhead proposal moves forward, our store would be about 150,000 square feet in size and employ about 300 [people],” said Bill Wertz, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark. The store’s opening time is still “very uncertain,” if they gain all approvals necessary.
He said having a Walmart in Buckhead would appeal to the majority of local customers from day one and even the “loudest critics wouldn’t disagree that the stores will draw a strong, solid and diverse customer base.”
However, residents in nearby neighborhoods have expressed frustration and formed the website SaveLindbergh.org in an effort to prevent the big box development.
“Approval of this project could have an effect on the entire city as it sets a precedent of overturning zoning and land use for a no good cause,” Abbie Shepherd, a Garden Hills resident and Neighborhood Planning Unit-B business representative, wrote in a letter to the city council. “The developer hasn’t conducted any true impact studies. This whole project has been rushed through, pushed along without any real concrete evidence of how this development will improve or harm our neighborhoods.”
In an emailed response to questions seeking comment, Shook said, “This situation is too fluid and sensitive for me to comment on at the moment, other than to repeat that I’m opposed to the land-use changing and rezoning.”