A North Carolina developer’s legal challenge to a Georgia city’s cap on the size of retail buildings has been settled out of court on the day it was supposed to go to trial. The developer wanted to build a Target store, but the city had a big box ordinance which banned retail buildings larger than 32,000 s.f., roughly one-fourth of the size Target wanted to build. The city and the developer reached an agreement on March 29th. that gives Target a green light to build in a project known as Kedron Village. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the parties signed a settlement after concessions were made. The developers agreed to move around the entrances to the Target to satisfy some neighborhood concerns, and they decreased the total size of the project by about 20%. The Target store, however, was allowed to remain at 125,000 s.f The newspaper says the city was concerned that even if it won in court, some kind of large retail store would be built because of a plan approved for Kedron Village in 1995. While the city got a smaller project and more appropriate entranceway, Target walked away with everything it wanted: a store way beyond the scope of the size limit in the ordinance. Now the city council has to approve the new site plan. Because of this agreement, the legal challenge to the Peachtree City’s big-box ordinance has been dropped.
Companies like Wal-Mart have not challenged dimensional caps on building size. Communities generally have local police power to regulate the size, use and location of land use under their zoning code, and the bulk or mass of a building is definitely legal in the context of keeping the scale and character of a community compatible. Wal-Mart has even suggested that if communities want to keep big stores out, they should pass a cap on the size of buildings. Peachtree City Mayor Steve Brown reportedly opposed the settlement reached with the developer. Brown was elected Mayor on an anti-sprawl platform. For more stories on this subject, search this database by the word “caps.”