ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Dozens gathered in protest at Tuesday’s Albany City Commission meeting.
South Albany residents said they’re angry commissioners approved a liquor store they said nobody wants.
Commissioners heard the passionate protesters pleading with them to reverse their decision of approving a liquor store to be built in South Albany.
While the decision was not reversed on Tuesday, they did vote to deny the liquor store owner using more land to expand the store’s parking lot.
One sign read, “Our community needs a liquor store like we need a hole in our heads.”
“It’s kind of hypocritical for us to talk about crime in the community when we have a liquor store here now,” said protester King Randall.
Dozens of angry neighbors spoke in front of Albany city commissioners Tuesday, asking them why they voted to approve the liquor store in the first place.
“We’re trying to change the lives of people in our neighborhood, so the last thing we want to do is bring something in our neighborhood that’s going to bring it down, instead of bring it up,” said Dr. Amanda Green, another protester.
The planning commission told commissioners they did not recommend they approve the liquor store last year, but they still voted to let the owner build it.
“The applicant was not the one pushing the zoning from the very beginning,” another protester told commissioners.
The protesters passionately questioned why it was approved when they said the applicant didn’t speak on behalf of the store once.
Now the owner wants to buy more land to expand the parking lot. But after hearing over an hour of protest, they voted unanimously to deny the request.
“They heard our voices, they took our concerns literally, they knew we have a passion for what we were talking about, that we really care about our people," said Green.
The owner of the liquor store did not want to comment on Tuesday’s protest or decision.
City of Albany officials are addressing a 2,000 gallon sewage leak that happened Friday.
The recent spill happened while crews were working to repair the east side interceptor sewer.
The 2,000 gallons actually spilled while crews were working to repair the city’s pipe systems.
The city hired Gulf Coast Underground to do the $15 million east and west end interceptor project to repair the sewer pipes that run along the Flint River.
They were doing bypass pumping work in the 300 block of North Broadway Street Friday night. That’s when crews put pressure on what they later found to be a blocked manhole.
“And when they put pressure on the pipe, the blockage blew out. And some of the sewage went down and trickled out. It was more like a garden hose running out, but it was still a leak. Fortunately, we found it with Gulf Coast and we were able to isolate it. And so we’re taking care of that problem,” said Bruce Maples, the managing director of engineering and planning.
City officials said the pipes are old, which is why they’re currently rehabbing them.
But they’re age and the wear and tear on them is what caused the blockage.
Now, Gulf Coast Underground crews, while being monitored by city crews, are looking to make sure there is no more blockage in manholes or the pipes as they continue the project.
The project was not delayed by the leak.
The railroad crossings at 3rd and 7th Avenues in Albany will not be closing.
The decision comes after community members and law enforcement officials pleaded with city commissioners to keep the crossings open.
The railroad company, Norfolk Southern, requested the city close the crossings back in 2018.
Company representatives said they aren’t safe for drivers to cross.
But those in Albany are concerned about how to reroute traffic if they were closed.
City leaders said it would take a lot of time and money to create two new safe routes for drivers.
“It’s not just the railroad, but it’s the traveling public, pedestrians, bicyclists and everything else. We have to look at the whole impact, so that’s what we’re trying to look at,” said Maples.
Commissioners will still be able to talk with Norfolk Southern and the Georgia Department of Transportation to try to find a solution that works for both parties.