Roswell resident Eric Spencer is opposed to a new gas station that will be located at Alpharetta Highway and Hembree Road. Photo credit: Adrianne Murchison

Roswell residents worry gas station, fire trucks a dangerous mix

Roswell residents worry that a new RaceTrac gas station planned near a fire station could lead to more accidents and delays for firemen responding to emergency calls.

The new gas station will be located at the intersection of Alpharetta Highway and Hembree Road, next door to Roswell Fire & Rescue Station No. 5.

Kevin Dean lives and works less than a mile from the site and drives through the busy intersection multiple times per day. He commented to the City Council that the gas station would pose a serious safety issue. “I’m in traffic every day and I see people block that lane that they are supposed to keep open for fire trucks to come out. I think if we are going to pack that corner, I think it’s a recipe for disaster.”

The land where the gas station is set to be built is already zoned for heavy commercial development for 14-16 gas pumps. However, last fall, RaceTrac asked the council to rezone a neighboring parcel on Hospital Boulevard from office park to commercial, as well. Councilmembers voted to deny the request, but under the city’s development code, RaceTrac can still utilize the extra lot, where they have said they will have a garbage dumpster and parking.

Roswell City Hall has been gripped by a feud between administrator Gary Palmer and a council member, Mike Palermo. CREDIT: AJC file photo
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

RaceTrac will also have a driveway on the smaller lot that is shared with the fire station. RaceTrac doesn’t plan to use the driveway, according to Jackie Dreibel, Roswell planning and zoning director.

Lifelong Roswell resident, Philip Mansell, is concerned about emergency vehicles that pass through the intersection to get to WellStar North Fulton Hospital during busy daytime hours. His father had a medical emergency recently and was rushed to the hospital. “It happened at night,” he said. “I drove and the traffic wasn’t bad but I worry about what would have happened if this occurred during the day.”

Mansell told City Council, “I feel like this is going to be a nuisance to the firefighters and will affect the time they get to assist Roswell residents.”

Roswell Fire Chief Ricky Burnette supports the planned gas station, according to Mayor Lori Henry. But retired Capt. Eric Spencer, who was based at Fire Station No. 5 and has lived in Roswell for more than 60 years, feels differently. “[Even now] when I make my way out of my driveway onto Hembree, I have to sit in line for about a mile to two miles. It’s just as bad going home.”

The Roswell Transportation Department has considered the current traffic count, according to the city.

“Even though [RaceTrac has] the right [to be there], it doesn’t make it right,” said Dean.

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