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Planners see no reason to change zoning

LAWRENCEVILLE - It was a tough decision, planning commissioners said, but they decided Tuesday that neither the long drought nor the burgeoning economic recession were reason enough to change the way land is used in the county.

Tim Roe, who owns a number of Valvoline shops in Gwinnett and elsewhere, wanted to rent Penske trucks from the .51 acre tract the service shop occupies on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

In fact, he already had been.

And neighbors had a problem with it. They said the trucks were an eyesore for their neighborhood across the street and were often parked in the grass and on the side of the building.

"It just seems to be the opposite of what's intended for Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road," Don Guthrie said.

Roe's attorney, John Miles, said he didn't mind limiting the number of trucks allowed on the property. Roe had shut down the Valvoline's car wash in response to the drought and the proliferation of car washes in Gwinnett, and was just trying to find a way to make some extra cash.

After the county's Quality of Life Unit cited him for operating the rental business without a permit, Roe said he tried to do everything asked of him.

"I thought we were fine," he said.

Planning commissioners sympathized, but said that temporary problems - such as a recession or a drought - were inadequate reasons to allow a special-use permit on the land.

Still, they suggested that the two sides get together and find a way to compromise so Roe and his neighbors could both get what they wanted.

"It seems to me there ought to be a way you could by some means construct a barrier to keep them from parking in some places," Planning Commissioner Floy Jumper said.

County commissioners will decide Feb. 26 whether to allow Roe to keep operating the Penske business from his shops. The Valvoline has been there for seven years, and Roe said he had been renting trucks for nearly a year before he got any complaints.