"I look at the total package," she said. "And I understand that Commissioner Woody (Thompson) wants to clean up that area and bring more uniform zoning."
Jeff Smith, 52, and his 56 year old brother Julian Smith, took over the store after their father, Charles "Paw Paw" Smith, died at Air Max 90 Nike White 81of a brain tumor on Dec. 4, 2011. They say his dying wish was for his family to keep the business he'd run from his home for nearly 30 years open.
While Friant declined to comment for this story, Goreham takes issue with the fact that part of the property was once zoned commercial, which means the owners had to pay higher property taxes taxes, before Charles Smith requested it be changed to residential.
Jeff Smith said Friant's family have long been the only neighbors to complain about his store, even reporting him to Cobb Community Development earlier this year for having a refrigerator on the front porch of his father's former home, which had been there since 1976.
"She had a right to be heard as a citizen," Goreham said of Friant. "I base my zoning decisions on the facts and what I think is appropriate. I've spoken to no one on the board regarding this case, and my assistant has spoken to no one on the board regarding this case."
Goreham said she was concerned because the fruit stand brings in some of its goods each day from the Atlanta Farmers Market in Forest Park. She said county ordinance allows for produce stands to operate on residential property only if they sell goods grown on that property.
At last week's planning meeting, Thompson initially motioned to give the Smiths a one year extension of their land use permit, less than the two year permit the Smiths had requested, which is what Charles Smith had received in the past.
"It might require some judgment," he said.
The Smiths say the stand itself has always been zoned residential.
AUSTELL Tracy Crum says she drives past a couple of other produce stands in order to get from her home in the Country Walk subdivision, north of Powder Springs, to the stand Air Max 90 On Feet White
But even had she had she known the fruit stand, which is attached to Charles Smith's old house, had always been zoned residential, Goreham said she still would have opposed it.
owned by Jeff and Julian Smith at 4509 Austell Powder Springs Road.
"Daddy had it combined into one property," Julian Smith said. "Anyone with common sense would do that to lower taxes."
Customers Commissioners' vote on fruit stand 'rotten'
But Thompson, whose southwest Cobb district includes the produce stand, said he "probably" would have recused himself in a zoning case in which his assistant were the only person Nike Air Max 90 Suede Brown
With no opposition speaking at the planning meeting, and a staff recommendation, the item was placed on the consent agenda, where several items considered non controversial are approved at one time, for the June 19 hearing before the Board of Commissioners. But when zoning division manager John Pederson asked if there was any opposition to the Smiths' land use permit, one woman sitting at the table reserved for county staff spoke up, meaning it had to be taken off the consent agenda and given a full hearing, in which each side gets 10 minutes to address the board.
In order to keep the produce stand open, they would need a land use permit, since the property it sits on is zoned residential. The Smiths said their father had successfully gotten one every two years since the store opened.
But, at the June 19 meeting, Goreham made statements suggesting that the fruit stand itself was once zoned commercial, something the family denies. Rather, Julian Smith, 56, said his father bought a neighboring piece of property that was already zoned general commercial from a man who had once intended to use it for a convenience store but ended up not developing it. After buying it, Charles Smith left most of the lot vacant, with some used for parking for the fruit stand.
While Goreham acknowledges not hearing from any opposition in the case other than her assistant, she said it was appropriate for her to vote on the issue.
County planning staff recommended the fruit stand receive a two year land use permit, with stipulations including that its sales be limited to spring and summer months and that it provide off street parking and turnaround space.
And the customers of the produce stand don't like it. Sondra Smith, who runs the fruit stand when her husband, co owner Jeff Smith, is away, said she has gathered 150
Instead, commissioners voted that motion down by a 3 2 decision, and went with southeast Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott's motion to deny the land use permit request, while instructing code enforcement not to enforce the ruling for the remainder of 2012. In both votes, Ott, Goreham and Chairman Tim Lee were in the majority, while Thompson and northeast Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell were on the losing end.
"I'd always get tomatoes. I'll usually get a watermelon," said Crum, a teacher. "They're just nice, friendly people that carry stuff out for you, whatever you need."
a truck driver and helps at the fruit stand when he can, Jeff Smith said he gave up his job to take one as a bus driver for the Cobb County School District so he could spend more time helping his aging father. He said he still needs the supplemental income.
"I think it's pretty rotten myself," said Larry Morgan, a customer of the produce stand for 28 years who lives off nearby Clay Road. "I'd like to know what happened to free enterprise. They're not doing anything illegal."
The woman was Annette Friant, who lives directly across Austell Powder Springs Road from the Smith home. She is also Goreham's assistant. Friant said during the hearing that the stand should be closed after this year and that owners should look to move to a new site, such as an abandoned gas station. She said the change in ownership marked a good time for the county to change its stance on the fruit stand.
to speak in opposition.
Among her concerns were statements that Charles Smith had once made about wanting to use the business as a way to get extra money to help him deal with a disability. Friant said that the younger Smiths have jobs and do not need the income.
"She waited until she was in friendly territory," Jeff Smith said of Friant. "If she had opposition, she should have voiced her opinion in the planning committee."
But the store, which has been in the same southwest Cobb location since 1983, is scheduled to close for good at the end of the summer if a 3 2 June 19 Cobb County Board of Commissioners decision to deny a land use permit for the store stands.
signatures from customers since the commissioners' decision, asking them to reconsider. Those are on top of the 247 they turned in when they requested the land use permit.
The land use permit passed by the Cobb Planning Commission by a 3 1 vote on June 5, with Bob Hovey, an appointee of northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham, casting the lone vote against. The Planning Commission makes recommendations for the Board of Commissioners zoning hearing.
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