Tucker Planning Commission recommends denial of Chick-fil-A application

Cars wait in the Chick-fil-A drive-thru lanes at 4340 Hugh Howell Road in Tucker on Jan. 19, 2022. A plan to build a new three-lane drive-thru restaurant nearby at 4435 Hugh Howell Road, the former site of Greater Good BBQ, has met resistance from residents of Rosser Terrace. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA — Tucker Planning Commission on May 19 recommended denial of an application to relocate Chick-fil-A to 4435 Hugh Howell Road, a plan that would access a three-lane drive-thru using only residential roads.

The fast-food giant has one more chance with City Council on June 13 before the plan is off the table.

Now in its 12th iteration, the plan has become a point of contention with residents of Rosser Terrace and Dillard Street.

At the May 19 Planning Commission meeting, Chick-fil-A engineer Bridgette Ganter presented nearly 30 minutes of data on traffic, claiming Cowan Road and Hugh Howell traffic is “not a Chick-fil-A problem” and blaming the geometry of the road.

“[The traffic study] is basically saying there’s not going to be much difference. It’s not saying that Chick-fil-A is going to make it better, it’s just not going to make it worse. It’s already pretty bad,” said Ganter.

Planning Commission member Michael Thomas, who proposed the deferral last month, said he was uncomfortable with traffic impact.

“My concern is not about the volume increases, necessarily. It’s about the methodology and the assumptions behind the potential improvements in the potential traffic impacts,” said Thomas. “Notably, there’s a significant difference between what the applicant is planning versus say what the city has recommended.”

Rosser Terrace resident Andy Wood has been present since the first public meeting in May 2021. Wood has been working with the city and DeKalb County to get speed bumps installed since before the pandemic due to high speeds from cut through traffic.

“The one elephant in the room they haven’t even talked about is the Tucker Industrial area. All of the traffic coming from there to go to lunch, cutting through our neighborhood, Florence Street and Rosser Terrace, to get to the restaurant,” said Wood.

Tom Lawrence, a Dillard Crossing resident, said his neighbors don’t want additional cars on their roads.

“This is where families walk with strollers, walk their dogs, ride bikes. We don’t want additional traffic on this residential street,” Lawrence said. “This intersection does not work with the traffic it currently has. Please don’t compound it with additional traffic.”

On May 13, Tucker Planning and Zoning Department issued a memo to recommend denial of the application.

Planning Commission member Seth Burrows was absent, but the board vote 6-0 to deny the application’s Special Land Use Permit and variances. Chick-fil-A will appear for a second read and vote by City Council on June 13. It will be the first time City Council has had the option of voting on the plan.

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