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Store questions nearby land-use; rezoning OK'd
Fleming Foot Mart
The Fleming Food Mart is at the corner of Leroy Coffer Highway (196) and Pate Rogers/Freedman Grove roads. - photo by Google Earth map

The Fleming Food Mart might get competition across Leroy Coffer Highway not far from the Bryan County line, and its owner isn’t happy about that prospect.

Virgil Jones recently submitted a rezoning petition to rezone 1.34 acres of his property from AR-1, agricultural residential district, to B-2, general commercial district to the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission.  

The property is at a four-way intersection on Leroy Coffer Highway, on the side Freedman Grover Road, across Leroy Coffer from the Fleming Food Mart.

In the narrative Jones submitted to the LCPC, he said his property has greater potential use as commercial. A business there could serve travelers along the highway, those living in the immediate area and provide an opportunity for consumers to purchase goods and services in Liberty County instead of in Bryan County.

Jones did not say exactly what the property will be used for.

His narrative said that it could be developed for a small retail business, such as a convenience store, or a building that houses multiple small businesses.

Not knowing what the property will be used for is Janhvi Amin’s main concern. She is the owner of Fleming Food Mart and spoke in opposition of the rezoning during the LCPC Planning Commissioners’ June 16 meeting.

Amin said she had to shut down and rebuild her business when the Georgia Department of Transportation expanded the road. She asked GDOT to expand the road on the side where Jones’ property is but was told that was considered a historic site, meaning the road had to be widened on her side.

She said she had to move her gas tanks for the expansion, which she said cost her a lot of money in rebuilding and paying fines and penalties. Amin said she doesn’t think it is fair that she had to pay all these costs only to have Jones build a competitive store across from her property.

There is currently an old building on Jones’ property.

Planning Commissioner Phil Odum said, “DOT considers any structure along a road that has been there for over 50 years a historic property. It doesn’t have to be a livable building. It could be a barn that’s about to come down, and they will hit the road over.”

“I’m not opposed to anything; it just depends on what (Jones) wants to do,” Amin said. “If they couldn’t use it then, why do they want to do it now? If they did this back then, I wouldn’t have spent all this money.”

Commissioner Timothy Byler said the traffic on the road and intersection will most likely come up in a meeting.

The commissioners unanimously voted to recommend approval of the rezoning petition. It will go before the Liberty County Commission for a final decision.

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