Parker’s Kitchen foes lose their fight against Augusta store
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - About 30 people showed up Tuesday’s Augusta Commission meeting to fight the opening of a Parker’s Kitchen, but they lost the battle.
The crowd of opponents claimed to have a 400-person petition in hand, fighting rezoning of 2.54 acres at 3645 Wheeler Road from agricultural to a neighborhood business.
Parker’s Kitchen wants to build a store there – where there’s a McDonald’s, a Walgreens and several other businesses that apparently haven’t drawn this sort of opposition.
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The Savannah-based convenience store chain that sells made-from-scratch meals has been expanding locally but has run into some unpredicted opposition in some other places, including Columbia County and Aiken.
Augusta residents have been more somewhat welcoming until now.
Although there was a little discussion about pedestrian safety if a Parker’s Kitchen were built on Gordon Highway, there’s been no opposition to one that’s being built at Windsor Spring and Tobacco roads.
The Wheeler Road store was apparently another matter.
“I’m over there everyday, and it is a nightmare,” said Catherine Smith-McKnight, District 3 Commissioner.
Sharon Kaminer, Hill Creek neighbor, said: “Crime is a concern of neighbors. Convenience stores are known to attract loitering, drug sales in parking lots and even murder.”
Augusta traffic and engineering officials admit the Wheeler Road intersection is already fairly busy, but say they were planning on a traffic study to add two left turns to calm the traffic.
“We’re going to add, instead of a single left turn lane on medical center drive and Augusta West Parkway, we’re going to add a second left turn lane on both of those approaches. So we’re essentially doubling the capacity,” said John Ussery with Augusta Traffic and Engineering.
So despite the 30 or so opponents, the Augusta Commission approved the rezoning 6-1.
Parker’s says the seven months of construction could start in April or May 2024.
Also on the agenda was the renaming of the Riverwalk for Edward M. McIntyre.
There has been much back-and-forth on naming the Riverwalk for Augusta’s first Black mayor, the man who started the idea for it.
But he was also convicted of extortion.
At least two people went before the commission to support the renaming, while one spoke against it.
Other renamings were also on the agenda. This included naming a baseball field at Diamond Lakes Regional Park for former Commissioner Andy Cheek and the utility building after former Utilities Director Tom Weidemeier.
All the renamings were delayed until the next commission meeting.
Also on the agenda
- Leaders pulled from the agenda a plan to give $50,000 to the Garden City Rescue Mission. The mission faced a deadline last week to raise almost $500,000 to keep from closing, but met and surpassed that goal, so it doesn’t need the city’s money.
- A special called meeting took place at which third-party hiring company Developmental Associates LLC laid out its process for finding candidates to become Augusta-Richmond County’s permanent city administrator.
- City leadership aims to hire VitalCore Health Strategies as the new jail medical services provider, after sticking with Wellpath since December of 2010.
- A discussion will take place on a new policy for employees physically clocking into work.
- Leadership wants to look into applying for a $1.7 million grant to update Augusta Transit’s Broad Street Transfer facility,
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