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Henry residents wary of warehouse proposal

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

Some concerned Henry County homeowners are paying close attention to plans for a new warehouse development near McDonough.

Residents packed a Henry County Zoning Advisory Board (ZAB) meeting on Thursday, where a request by Lambert Family Investments, LLLP, to rezone property on the northwest corner of King Mill and Iris Lake roads for a warehouse, was discussed. The request was for rezoning from Residential-Agricultural to Heavy Manufacturing (M-2).

The Zoning Advisory Board recommended denial of the M-2 zoning but approval of M-1 (Light Manufacturing) zoning for the property, with 14 conditions. The request would go to the Henry County Board of Commissioners for final approval or denial.

Jeremy Gilbert, a planner with the Henry County Planning and Zoning Department, acknowledged that many residents attending the meeting were under the assumption that plans for the property included a Clorox plant, which could potentially bring hazardous materials, chemical storage or manufacturing to the area.

That will not be the case, he said.

"None of that can be done, because the property is in a watershed area," Gilbert said.

He said that while it is not clear who would occupy the warehouse, the rezoning request was in compliance with future plans for that area of the county.

"The request is consistent with the Future Land Use Map," Gilbert said. "This particular piece of land is designated for industrial and wholesale use."

At the meeting to address the zoning board on the request was Russell B. Posey, II, senior vice president of Atlanta-based The Alter Group, a corporate real-estate development company.

Posey said there are no current plans by any one company to use the facility.

"While it has been public knowledge for some time that Clorox, along with many other major corporate warehouse users such as Lowe's, Colgate and Kraft, are investigating potential sites in the Atlanta regional market for distribution centers, these opportunities are currently at such preliminary stages that we are not in a position to discuss any specific user or project," he said.

One resident on hand for the meeting was Jon Tedder, who said a petition against the development was circulated, and 900 signatures were collected. He was one of those signees, he said. The petition was submitted to the zoning board during the crowded meeting at the Henry County Administration Building in McDonough.

Tedder, a UPS employee, said he was concerned about the traffic a warehouse might bring, and its impact on property values in the area. "My major concern is, if they build up an industrial area, my home value will go down," said Tedder, who lives on King Mill Road. "To me, it doesn't matter what it is. It's going to be an eyesore, and bad for the community. The people just don't want it."

Posey offered reassurances to residents worried about the impact the proposed warehouse could have on their neighborhoods.

"We certainly respect the citizens of Henry County, and want to assure them that if Alter does proceed with a future development, it will be of the highest quality," he said.

Another item on the agenda for the meeting was a request by Lambert Family Investments, LLLP, for a variance for the property, to reduce the amount of parking required for the proposed development.

The board approved the variance, with the condition that a landscape plan is submitted to, and approved by, the county Planning and Zoning Department.

Gilbert said the next step in the process is to hold a town hall meeting on the proposed development. No date has been set, he said.