ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Is Albany business friendly? That is a question some community leaders are asking, after Dougherty county and Albany city commissioners both voted down a well respected Lee County business from developing another location.
Darrel Finnicum grew up near Gillionville Road, and says he thought he could help improve the area with an appealing car dealership.
He says that's the reason he worked twice to open a satellite location of his Finnicum Motor Company, but was denied zoning changes by both Dougherty County and Albany commissioners.
Finnicum said he was "disappointed because we had done our homework and felt like we had some good things to bring."
Homeowners said they didn't want a car dealership in their neighborhood, and commissioners agreed.
"We're not anti business. We have to be business friendly. We have to be resident friendly," said Albany City Commissioner B.J.Fletcher.
One of the main arguments by residents was that the car lot's lights would be a nuisance. Finnicum says that's unusual because Pine Forest Racquet club, on the city site before, had lights.
Fletcher, well known as a pro business advocate, said Gillionville should be residential for future growth.
"Somewhere along the line somebody has to say, wow, I want your business but I really would rather see you over here. And I think that's what the commission did. And did we take a little bit of heat for it. You know, but again, we have to protect our residents," said Fletcher.
Finnicum says he hopes commissioners and business owners can get on the same page in the future. But for now, will the denials of his business makes others question if Albany is business friendly?
"It's probably not going to help. And that's why we have to get on the same page," said Finnicum.
Finnicum says he will look at other options for his future expansion, but still hopes to open an Albany location.
Fletcher says she wants commissioners to draw up ideas for future growth, for business and residential areas in Albany and Dougherty County, and make sure all businesses know they are welcome in Albany.
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