“Obviously I am disappointed in today’s vote,” Wan said in a statement.
“The two rezoning papers I introduced would have made it easier for the residents, businesses and other stakeholders along Cheshire Bridge Road to further revitalize the business corridor. The changes would have allowed for businesses more compatible with the needs of the community, and restrict those that are incompatible with the surrounding neighborhoods,” he added.
“I would like to thank residents, business owners and city staff for their engagement. As we move forward, I remain committed to continue working with all stakeholders to improve Cheshire Bridge Road.”
Voting in favor were: Wan, Carla Smith, Keisha Bottoms, Michael Julian Bond, Aaron Watson and H. Lamar Willis.
Voting against were: Kwanza Hall, Ivory Lee Young, Cleta Winslow, Natalyn Archibong, Howard Shook, Yolanda Adrean, Felicia Moore, C.T. Martin and Joyce Sheperd.
After the vote, many in the packed council chamber erupted into applause and shouts of “thank yous.”
WAN URGES COUNCIL TO VOTE IN FAVOR
Wan urged his fellow council members to vote in favor of his proposed legislation, noting that the idea to rid the Cheshire Bridge corridor of a proliferation of sex shops and strip clubs originated in 1999 with a task force. That task force’s vision was then adopted by the city council in 2005.
“This is part of a long standing effort, 14 years and counting, to improve this corridor,” Wan said and added the major thoroughfare that includes many restaurants, auto repair shops, gay bars and other businesses currently has 14 percent vacancy.
The property values for homes close to Cheshire Bridge Road continue to decrease, Wan said.
He also said threats of lawsuits from developers and adult business owners should not dissuade the council from voting to do what he believes is right for the neighborhood.
The concern by several council members as well as the public about setting a bad precedent in essentially wiping out the grandfather clause that allowed the adult businesses to stay on Cheshire Bridge Road in the first place was also not a concern to Wan as well as the city’s planning department and law department.
“Yes, this is a bold new tool that has not been tried in Atlanta,” Wan said. “But this requires a bold new approach.” The fear the council would then “recklessly” start zoning out businesses they didn’t like would not be possible, Wan said.
The statement that “people knew what they were getting into when they moved there” was an argument that did not hold water for Wan, either.
“If you buy that logic, we might as well all go home now,” he said. Because by that logic, he said, people should just accept high crime rates and bad traffic issues rather than try to make communities better. Wan also said there were many businesses that supported his legislation but were too “scared and intimidated to come forward.”
Wan added, “A no vote to me shows your willingness to allow six or seven businesses to continue dictating and negatively impacting thousands and thousands of community stakeholders; not just residents but businesses too.”
‘A DEFINING MOMENT’
C.T. Martin, who voted against Wan’s legislation, said at the Monday meeting this vote was a “defining moment in public policy.”
“I attended the zoning meeting and it was one of the more educational settings since I’ve been on the council. There comes a time when we all have to fight the good fight and stay the course and the results may not always be what we hope them to be,” Martin said. “But we have to try to see the big picture.”
He said putting businesses out of business is not good policy and that he could not find many reasons to support the proposed legislation.
Photo: Aubrey T. Villines, attorney for Club Onyx, a strip club on Cheshire Bridge Road, talks to employees and supporters of the club after the city council zoning committee meeting on May 29. The zoning committee approved proposed legislation to oust several adult businesses by 2018 but on June 3 the full council voted against the measures. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)