A busy part of downtown Alpharetta is going to the dogs.
During a Monday, Aug. 1 meeting, City Council approved a land use request for an upscale off-leash dog park and restaurant planned at Old Milton Parkway and South Main Street.
Before voting, council members had differing views on the safety of the location.
Lonnie Cooper Ventures plans to demolish the former Rite-Aid structure to build three areas of the new dog park facility. The business plans to build a 5,400-square-foot restaurant, a 3,000-square-foot covered patio for leashed dogs, and a 0.73-acre outdoor off-leash dog park with small and large dog sections.
Payment for memberships or day passes will be required for the dog park areas. Dogs will not be allowed inside the restaurant which will be open to the general public, Wendy Newman, CEO of Cooper Holdings, told City Council.
Newman says the future dog park will be a flagship brand for others around the U.S.
Councilmembers described Old Milton and South Main Street as the busiest intersection in the city, and dangerous. After discussing the possibility of dogs jumping over a planned 5-foot fence on the property and running into traffic, City Council decided to require the business to install a 6-foot fence instead.
Still, approval of the new dog park was a split vote. Councilmen Brian Will and Donald Mitchell opposed the land use request, while Mayor Jim Gilvin and Councilmembers Jason Binder, Doug DeRito, Dan Merkel and John Hipes approved it.
Will said that he believes that even with a 6-foot fence the location would be unsafe for dogs playing in the park.
“I understand the business owner is responsible if something happens but I think as City Council we’re also responsible to do our best to make sure that (there isn’t a potential for something to happen),” Will said.
Will and Mitchell said the taller fence would be an unattractive sight from Old Milton Parkway.
Gilvin said he trusts the safety operations of the planned park as well as responsible dog owners who would bring their pets there, adding that owners bring dogs to the open Town Green near City Hall.
“To my knowledge, we’ve never had a dog — even without fences on the Town Green — to run out into traffic,” Gilvin said. “… I’m not oblivious to the safety concern, I just feel like there’s nothing we can prevent from ever happening …”
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