City leaders say rules are rules - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City leaders say rules are rules

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By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Business is so good at a downtown Albany restaurant, the owner was all set to expand and open a mobile restaurant in northwest Albany.

Then he found out there's a zoning problem, he thinks the City of Albany could speed up the process.

City leaders say rules are rules.

Dale Saunders showed off his restaurant's travel kitchen which he thought would now be up and running selling barbecue in the old Office Max parking lot.

"We hired new people to go in it and we're may have to lay those people off, I take part of the blame for not researching enough," said Saunders.

With everything ready to go he hit a snag, he needed a separate business license and there was a zoning issue.

 "When I went to apply for the business license I was sent upstairs to planning for a sheet of paper they had to sign off on they wouldn't sign off on it because they said the property wasn't zoned for a food establishment," said Saunders

He thought the zone for the trailer to operate in the parking lot was correct.

"We just pulled this off of the county tax assessor web site and it shows it is zoned C-3," said Saunders.

We asked the city about the problem.

"We verified on your question on the tax codes it is zoned C-3 but, but the officials records has it as a C-7, and with that it doesn't allow for external uses in the parking area," said Wes Smith, Albany Assistant City Manager.

Saunders asked for permission to go ahead and open while he appeals for a zoning change.

"If I was the city, the tax dollars that could come in I believe I would like to have a business there in February," said Saunders.

But the city said no.

"We need to be consistent and we'll treat him like we treat anybody else, if there are things that can be resolved more quickly we will do so," said Smith.

Saunders hopes for a quick resolution so his new employees can keep their jobs.

"Hopefully we'll have enough business downtown, we don't want layoffs because it is Christmas," said Saunders.

"We will do everything we can, because we want to be reasonable and we want to support business," said Smith.

Riverfront Barbecue's owner also says he's out thousands of dollars in advertising promoting the new location.


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