Mechanic wants to open car repair shop on Memorial Drive

Vietnam refugee and master mechanic Chen Dzoan Le, who has lived in the United States since 1995, believes he is close to fulfilling a dream.

“My American dream is to own my own automotive repair shop,” he wrote in a letter to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.
Le is trying to get county approval to convert part of a 10-bay car wash at 5030 Memorial Drive into a car repair shop. He plans to convert four bays for car repair and two for office space, and hire three technicians and a receptionist.
The Board of Commissioners is considering Le’s application for a special land use permit.
Located on the northwest side of Memorial Drive, near Memorial College Avenue, the property has approximately 100 feet of frontage on Memorial Drive and contains 1.01 acres.
Some residents of the Memorial Drive corridor who have been longing for a revitalization of the area say the road does not need another car repair shop.
The “saturation of [these] types of businesses…doesn’t enhance a neighborhood,” Joe Arrington, a member of Pride Rings in Stone Mountain, a community action group, told commissioners during a Nov. 13 meeting. “In fact they have a tendency to take away from it. The whole reason this application is before you is to act as an intermediate check-and-balance, which you are in control of.”
Arrington said he and other residents have been engaged in a 20-year effort “to support and, not stabilize, but to enhance and rebuild Memorial Drive.”
The District 4 Community Council for the area recommended a denial of the application citing potential pollution impacts within the 100-year flood plain and nearby streams from fluids draining from the auto repair facility. The council also stated that there could be potential code enforcement problems with the restriction of outdoor storage of vehicles on the property that have been repaired or are awaiting repair.
“The site is not suitable to accommodate auto repair activities,” according to the community council.
The county’s planning commission and planning staff also denied the application, but the planning staff has since reversed its decision, approving the application with conditions after the applicant submitted a letter from Accurate Engineering Inc. stating that the site can be designed so as not to allow contamination of the adjacent Snapfinger Creek Tributary.
One condition of the planning staff’s approval is limiting the business to minor automobile repair, which would exclude transmission and engine repair or painting. Other conditions include the requirement that all automobile repair work be done completely inside the building with the bays closed; and the prohibition of outdoor storage of equipment and materials. Cars could not be stored beyond 24 hours. All temporary storage of vehicles would be limited to the back portion of the parking lot and if a new sign structure is constructed, it must be a monument sign with a brick base not to exceed 10 feet in height or 32 square feet in size.
Sonia Muhammad, an agent with Avant Architecture, which is representing the business owner, said Le wants to improve Memorial Drive.
“I love Memorial Drive,” Muhammad said. “I’ve live in that area for a long time. Nothing that we would want to recommend would be to make it worse than it is right now.”
The Board of Commissioners deferred voting on the application until Jan. 22 when a public hearing will be held.


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