The Flowery Branch City Council unanimously voted Thursday to table a vote on the closing of the Chattahoochee Street railroad crossing, deciding to take some time to inform citizens and hear more input before voting.
The council now plans to vote on the decision on Nov. 1 and will hold information sessions before then in which residents can ask questions.
The city is considering closing the crossing to help alleviate traffic caused by cars waiting for parked trains. Flowery Branch has three railroad crossings, at Lights Ferry Road, Spring Street and Chattahoochee Street.
Mayor Mike Miller said Thursday that Norfolk Southern, which owns the railroad crossing, has the authority to close the crossing without consulting the city.
“That is their right of way. They own that track, and the road that goes over it is theirs,” Miller said. “They could, within their rights, go out tomorrow and shut it down.”
City Manager Bill Andrew said Thursday that due to geographic constraints in the area and the cost of the project, a bridge or tunnel is not a possibility for the crossing.
Norfolk Southern would pay to install a lunar light at Spring Street, Andrew said. However, Norfolk Southern has budgeted the cost for that light for this calendar year, and funding next year would be uncertain, he said.
That light would reduce the need for trains to block the crossings at Spring Street and Lights Ferry Road.
Several residents spoke at Thursday’s meeting, saying closing the crossing would just make traffic worse.
Christine Worl said she felt like the situation was being viewed as a “math problem,” but it affects residents’ everyday lives. She said she goes on Chattahoochee Street daily and has seen heavy traffic there.
“It won’t alleviate the problem of the trains stopping,” Worl, who is running for a position on the council, said. “They have been stopping since I came here in 2000. It’s just increased. … Closing the crossing is just going to add more problems.”
Meg McLincha, another resident, said she already feels unsafe walking in the area because cars speed through. Closing the crossing would only increase traffic, she said, and she was concerned about how that problem could worsen as the population grows with new residential developments.
“We have to look at things a little more for the future,” she said. “We’re going to have only more and more people come to our town because it’s a good town. … But the traffic is horrible.”
Residents who spoke at the public hearing Thursday were all opposed to the city closing the Chattahoochee Street crossing.
The information sessions will likely be in mid-October, and there will be one in the morning and one in the evening.
Golf cart ordinance
Councilmembers also heard comments on the city’s proposed personal transportation vehicle ordinance, which would allow people to drive golf carts on some public roads.
Thursday was the first reading of the ordinance, and the council is set to vote Oct. 18. The rule would go into effect Nov. 1.
One resident, Ed Asbridge, said the survey the city used to develop the ordinance was not inclusive of the city’s population as a whole because it was disproportionately taken by Sterling on the Lake residents. Asbridge, who said he lives in Sterling himself, said the ordinance seemed rushed and too many questions remained.
Burger King on Phil Niekro Boulevard
Councilmembers unanimously approved a variance request for a convenience store, gas station and Burger King restaurant on Phil Niekro Boulevard near the Stonebridge Village shopping center.
The variance will allow the gas pumps to remain in front of the store.
The existing gas station building at that site will be replaced with a new building.