Grocery store

The new shopping center property sits behind the Elements Express Car Wash at the intersection of North Columbia Street and Log Cabin Road. 

A major grocery store will reportedly be a new shopping center planned near the intersection of Log Cabin Road and North Columbia Street in Milledgeville.

Although officials involved in the development have declined to provide the name of the grocery store, sources have indicated it will be a Publix supermarket.

The new shopping center will be located across from a small strip shopping center and near the side entrance to the Kroger store along Log Cabin Road.

Milledgeville City Council held a first public hearing last week to consider three ordinances with annexing and rezoning property associated with a specific project on North Columbia Street.

Since the three ordinances are a combined request, and the passage of one was tied to the passage of all, city officials were allowed to hold only one public hearing, Milledgeville Mayor Pro-Tem Denese Shinholster said. 

Ordinance 0-2111-17 amends the charter of the city of Milledgeville to annex approximately 7.88 acres at 2781 N. Columbia Street to set the zoning as community commercial and to place it in voting District 6.

Shinholster said Ordinance 0-2111-18 amends the land development code to rezone property located at 111 Log Cabin Road from SFR-2 to Community Commercial and 0-2111-19 amends the land development code to rezone property located at 118 Turkey Run from SFR-2 to Community Commercial.

Those same three ordinances were then read aloud during the public hearing by Milledgeville City Clerk Bo Danuser.

Mervin Graham, who serves as the city’s zoning administrator, informed those at the meeting that all three properties received unanimous approval for such changes by members of the city’s planning and zoning commission.

At the public hearing last Tuesday night at Milledgeville City Hall, those in favor of the development and those opposed to it expressed their feelings about the proposed project before city officials later voted to approve it.

The development will be located on wooded property behind the new Elements Express Car Wash on Log Cabin Road and on the same side of the roadway where Community Baptist Church is located.

Tom Hareas, vice president of development for The Sembler Company, of St. Petersburg, Fla., spoke in favor of the project. 

“We are the applicant for the proposed project,” Hareas said told city officials. “I’m here to answer any questions that the council has, the staff or the public.”

 Shinholster then asked if there was anyone there who wanted to speak in opposition to the proposed project.

Scott Salter, a longtime resident of the Quail Place subdivision, said he opposed it.

“And I have two elderly neighbors whose property is adjacent to the property to the 7.88 acres,” Salter said. “They couldn’t be here.”

He said he did talk with neighbors earlier in the day and that he was there opposing the development on their behalf as well.

Salter said he couldn’t stop a capitalistic society or growth.

“This property is so close to my neighborhood and my neighbors,” Salter said. “It’s going to affect a lot of people here. And I’m afraid it’s going to affect us in not a good way. It’s going to completely change our environment. It’s going to change the wildlife that we have around there. It’s going to change noise levels.”

Salter said he and his neighbors enjoy their peace and tranquil nights.

Such would change with big trucks coming in at various times of the night with grocery deliveries to the store, he said.

“We’re not going to enjoy a quiet night’s sleep anymore because of the activity that is going to be going on in this new proposal,” Salter said. “My concerns are heartfelt. And like I say, I speak for other people who couldn’t be here.”

 Salter said the area of the development was situated in wetlands.

“I’ve been living there for over 25 years,” Salter said. “We have a wonderful neighborhood. Its location is great. We have a multicultural neighborhood — Caucasian, African-American, South Americans, Asian-Americans. I know almost everybody there. We all get along and we live in harmony. And we want to maintain that.”

 Salter said if the property was approved for commercial use, he was afraid that it would change things and not for the betterment of the neighborhood.

Another resident of the same neighborhood, Deborah Freeman, said she believed her property would be adjacent to the new development.

“I’m kinda confused at what is going to be back there, because I’ve heard it’s going to be a grocery store — a Publix, and I’ve heard also that it’s going to be a little strip mall,” she said.

 She expressed concern about a buffer between her property and the new development.

“I don’t know who will help about the noise level, and if the crime rate will [increase],” Freeman said. “And I know crime is everywhere.”

She said she has lived there since 1992 and that she owns property across the street from where she lives too.

Already, three families have moved away from the neighborhood, Freeman-Cobb said.

Hareas responded to the residents’ concerns.

He said the two residents' comments were all valid concerns.

Hareas said The Sembler Company develops shopping centers — something the company has been involved in doing for more than 60 years.

“They are neighborhood-scale shopping centers,” Hareas said. “The issues that you guys have brought up are very common and typical. We always design our projects to deal with those issues up front.”

Hareas said the new development would have a shared entrance with the new car wash along Log Cabin Road.

When it comes to the wildlife in the area, Hareas said he and other staff personnel had decided it best to preserve the wetlands.

“We put a lot of thought into our planning for the project,” he said.

Members of city council later voted on each of the three ordinances, approving them unanimously.

Those voting to approve the ordinances included City Alder members Walter Reynolds, Steve Chambers, Richard Mullins, Dr. Collinda Lee and Shinholster.

City Alderwoman Jeanette Walden did not attend the council meeting and Mayor Mary Parham Copelan was absent due to illness.

Construction on the new shopping center is expected to begin later this year.

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