It was a night to behold at City Hall. When are you all going to listen to me when I tell you to tune in and follow local politics? “I hate politics” you say? But what you say is ill-informed. Local politics is your back yard.
For almost 3 hours I watched live streaming video of the City Council meeting to hear the decision on the matter of building a Chick-fil-A at Avalon. I’m telling you – this stuff is better than Law and Order re-runs. It’s real American democracy. It’s not a courtroom, but it’s not dissimilar. Developers and those that want to change or challenge zoning decisions have the serious duty of presenting their case to City Council. And this City Council (allegedly) represents citizens. We have to hope they do, anyway.
It was a sight to behold, as I watched Chick-fil-A corporate present their case. This Chick-fil-A will be incredible, they say. This Chick-fil-A will be a technological marvel, evidently because they can fit 33 cars in the drive through lane. This Chick-fil-A is “affordable”, they said, “when compared to the $17.00 taco at Avalon”. (Not sure The El Felix will appreciate that slam). It will be custom built – to Alpharetta standards.
At times, I thought I was watching a televised down-home church revival. Mr. Chick-fil-A-Corporate was nodding his head “Amen” with each speaker as he presented. “Praise Be to Chick-fil-A” was the theme of the evening. Things really got moving with the public comments. First up was former Alpharetta mayor and state legislator, Chuck Martin. Mr. Martin appropriately called for a round of applause for the veterans in the room on this day, December 7th, a day that has lived in infamy. Mr. Martin then went on to warmly commend Chick-fil-A and call for their presence at Avalon. Next up was Katie Reeves – also in favor of Chick-fil-A. Third up, was former City Councilman John Monson – also in favor of Chick-fil-A. In fact, out of the 6-8 (?) people who spoke, only one spoke against the idea of a Chick-fil-A; a resident of Avalon. This person complained about the traffic that already exists at Avalon and lamented the fact that a Chick-fil-A would only make this situation worse.
Attorney Rolader, in his closing comments, offered up the suggestion that Alpharetta City Council voting against a Chick-fil-A at Avalon would be paramount to them acting as if they themselves were North American Properties, with the authority to decide what is best for that development. In response to this suggestion, I have to step in and defend Alpharetta City Council. It is this Council’s job to decide what zoning decisions are best for the City of Alpharetta – as Mayor Belle Isle has stated previously. Avalon is only one (small) component of Alpharetta. It is certainly their rightful place to vote for or against the decision to put a fast food restaurant at Avalon.
In any case, a Chick-fil-A there will be. Yes, you can get all the chicken sandwiches you want at Avalon. Cluck, cluck, cluck.
But, shame on you Alpharetta. Shame on you for coming out in full force tonight – John Monson, Katie Reeves, Chuck Martin and all of you that have put so much time and energy into this issue. Poorly done- allowing all this glitter and fireworks around the issue of a fast food restaurant at Avalon, when so little attention from residents is given to more serious matters. Where are all of you on other zoning decisions – decisions that impact traffic, quality of life, water quality, the health of our environment, the future of Alpharetta residents beyond the scope of Avalon? And speaking of being disinterested in topics other than Chick-fil-A – what about the fact that there was no election in Alpharetta this year? No one to challenge those up for re-election and no one to challenge Mr. Binder or Mr. Merkel? Or that City Council meetings are scarcely attended? That few people seem to care what decisions are made? Well – except for this one. A Chick-fil-A.
Yes, it takes the question of a 4th Chick-fil-A within or right on the line with Alpharetta to REALLY to get people fired up! And why shouldn’t it, with Mark Toro’s masterful marketing of this issue? Mr. Toro single-handedly elevated the placement of a Chick-fil-A at Avalon to the question of whether or not you are a good American; someone who loves God and country, someone who doesn’t act like an old, white guy but who loves and believes in MARTA, high-end retail and chicken.
As I’ve said before, I really don’t care if Avalon has a Chick-fil-A or not. And as for using the “shame” word above – hey- it’s not my favorite word. But, I’m calling you out Alpharetta. Shame on you for caring about chicken sandwiches more than your own quality of life. And eating a chicken sandwich at a fast food restaurant does not equal quality of life.