Zaxby's Explains Its Code Variance Requests

The owner of the S. Hairston property and project team say they didn't know until two months ago that the proposed restaurant would be within an overlay district.

In the first development project in the area since the last year, a Zaxby's restaurant franchisee is requesting variances from the code in order to accommodate several features of the proposed restaurant property at 1152 S. Hairston Rd.

Members of the Hidden Hills Civic Association (HHCA) and overlay commitee as well as several other local residents met with the owner, engineer and additional project team members at the property on Wednesday evening to go over the restaurant's plans and requests.

The code in the Greater Hidden Hills Overlay District calls for buildings to be no more than 20 feet from the street. Zaxby's wants to be 67.5 feet from the street. This is the main variance the restaurant is after. The matter goes before the Board of Appeals on Sept. 12, 1 p.m.

The reason Zaxby's wants the exception to this part of the overlay code is to allow for the drive-through and handicapped parking, explained Madolyn Spann, who attended yesterday's gathering.

Also at issue is the code's requirement of a ten foot wide landscape strip between the curb and the sidewalk, with a ten foot wide sidewalk. There is a variance request to reduce the the landscape strip along the north and south property lines for parking and circulation purposes.

HHCA president Wendall Ervin isn't thrilled with the requests, especially given that the proposed development is the first since the code was made law.

Daryl Cook, president of Watts & Browning Engineers Inc., who was also on hand Wednesday, said the plans were submitted to the county in February and went through the necessary process. But he said he wasn't told until July, when the project was nearing the permitting stage, that the property was within an overlay district.

Among other things, the Greater Hidden Hills Overlay District includes design standards for new buildings and landscaping within the defined overlay area, which covers about four square miles.

"If they're willing to negotiate, then we're willing to negotiate," Ervin said of Zaxby's.

TJ McLeroy, chief operating officer of McLeroy's/JGMC.McDreams Enterprises, Inc., a licensee of Zaxby's Franchising, Inc., said the restaurant would employ about 35-50 people.

While the economic development is desired in the area, Ervin said the project "has to be driven by guidelines and ordinances to give us what we want, not what we don't want," Ervin told Patch.

The 74-seat restaurant with drive-through window would be 3,195 gross square feet.

"This is a good thing. This is a great investment," said Liane Levetan, former DeKalb County CEO, who was key in making the property deal with the current owner happen. The proposed site is where a former .Dairy Queen still sits. "This is going to really revitalize this area."

McLeroy and his father, property owner Greg McLeroy, CEO/President of McLeroy's/JGMc/McDreams Enterprises, said they hoped the differences could be worked out.

"I think it's all logistics," T.J. McLeroy said.

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