Plans to re-open a North Midtown service station that would sell beer and wine 24 hours a day hit a snag at this month’s Midtown SPI-16 & SPI-17 Development Review Committee (DRC) meeting.
But it had nothing to with the proposed hours of operation or alcohol sales. But the proprietor of the “Uptown Station,” located at the edge of the Ansley Park neighborhood at the corner of Peachtree Street and Peachtree Circle, will still need to clear those hurdles later.
Decatur businessman Alex Panjwani explained to the DRC his plans to expand the square footage of the buildings located on the half-acre parcel at 1521 Peachtree Street. In his desire to connect the primary building with a car wash structure on the property, it triggers the need to comply with all aspects of SPI-16 code, which plans he showed committee members did not do.
There were issues with the number of curb cuts, landscaping, parking spaces and more.
“They’re going to have to ask for some variances in order to make the project work simply because they’re going to have to get trucks in and out of there for gas service,” said committee member Ginny Kennedy, who is the urban design director at Midtown Alliance.
Panjwani is expected to return before the DRC next month, but as one committee member expressed, “the bigger hurdle to get past is the (Ansley) neighborhood with regards to alcohol sales and hours of operation.”
The idea of an establishment located so close to the Ansley Park neighborhood that sells alcohol 24 hours a day has not pleased all neighbors. The former Peachtree Circle Shell at that location, which closed in 2011, would typically close at 11 p.m.
Twenty-four hour convenience stores have a reputation for attracting among other things — criminal activity, loitering, litter, noise pollution and increased traffic.
“The neighbors biggest concern is a 24-hour food mart next to a residential that serves (alcohol),’’ Penelope Cheroff, the Neighborhood Planning Unit-E Chair who represents Ansley, said at this month's NPU meeting. “All of our residents are concerned.”
Cheroff is also a DRC member and she came ready to challenge the idea of round-the-clock alcohol sales so close to Ansley. City regulations prohibit the granting of liquor licenses to an establishment that is within 300 feet of a residential property.
“This here is about five feet from a single residential,” she said.
The DRC has nothing to do with alcohol sales and Panjwani will ultimately need to go before representatives from the Ansley neighborhood, NPU-E, as well as the city's License Review Board. And while he’ll have issues convincing the Ansley neighborhood that selling beer and wine 24 hours isn’t a bad thing, the wording of the city ordinance would appear not to affect his plans.
Specifically, the ordinance addresses so-called hard liquors such as whiskey or vodka. An establishment selling just beer and wine is not subject to the 300-foot distance rule.
The statute — Sec. 10-88 of the city code — reads:
No license here under shall be issued for any location where alcoholic beverages are sold whose proposed boundary line is within 300 feet of any private residence. The distance for the purpose of this section, notwithstanding the definition of distance contained in section 10-1, shall be measured by straight line from the closest point of the property line of the proposed site where alcoholic beverages are sold to the nearest point of any residential building, provided, however, that when the applicant is located within a shopping center containing a minimum of 80,000 square feet the distance from any private residence shall be reduced to 150 feet.