ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Some people living in South Albany said they don’t want a new liquor store in their area.
City commissioners voted to approve a lot for a liquor store, but they did this more than a year ago.
Now the question of if it should be a liquor store and if the owner of the liquor store should be able to expand the parking lot, has come up again and neighbors said they aren’t happy about it.
“My child actually catches the bus in that same area, that same intersection,” said Demetrius Young, an Albany homeowner.
The issue for the homeowners in South Albany is a liquor store coming to the 400 block of Johnny W. Williams Road.
City commissioners approved the store being built in the residential area almost a year ago. Even after the planning commission told them they didn’t recommend that decision.
“So now the owner can legally build a liquor store there, so now the planning commission was trying to make the best of what they had to work with,” said Paul Forgey, the director of planning and development.
Which is why the issue was brought up again.
Now, the owner of the liquor store wants to purchase a neighboring lot to turn it into a parking lot, with drive thru access to the store.
The planning commission recommends approving the extra lot to move the store back farther from the street, But Young, who has lived in the area for five years now, said the store could be a dangerous addition to South Albany.
“Sell alcohol, sell cigarettes to a very vulnerable, at risk population that’s in that poor neighborhood. So it’s just not something that needs to go there. It’s not going to work,” said Young.
But the liquor store will be built no matter what. Which leaves Young wondering how he can make his neighbors more aware of possible businesses coming to the neighborhood in the future, wondering if maybe more voices had been heard before the decision, would the outcome have been different.
“On a different part of town there probably would have been more people here, but in that area of town, a lot of people don’t have that information. So that’s part of the solution, just being more informed of what’s coming,” Young said.
Commissioners did vote to table the discussion until they have a chance to come out to the area with neighbors and the liquor store owner to discuss possible solutions moving forward.
Commissioners also agreed to table the discussion of possibly closing two railroad crossings.
The decision comes almost a month after Norfolk Southern requested the crossings at 3rd and 7th avenues be closed.
The commissioners said they want to create a compromise with Norfolk Southern. One that keeps the relationship between the city and the company, but also keeps the two crossings open.
Many in the city, from residents to city leaders themselves, expressed their concern and outrage over the possible closures at the Dec. 11 meeting.
First responders also said the closures could cause safety issues, saying it could potentially double their travel time to get to fires and other emergencies.
And drivers said they’re concerned about getting to work with added traffic they fear the closures would create.
But a company representative told commissioners there shouldn't be an open crossing across a multi-lane rail system in the first place.
They said a crossing at the locations is a safety issue for drivers.
Commissioners said they’ll hold off on voting on the closures until a February meeting.