The Adairsville City Council heard a first reading of a request from MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service to station emergency response vehicles at 14 Legacy Way at Thursday evening’s public meeting.
This came after council members voted unanimously to approve the second reading of a text amendment to the Adairsville zoning code, allowing the use of ambulances or other emergency services in C-2 commercial-zoned properties with a special-use permit.
"It's only allowed right now in the office-institutional district, and there are only two or three I/O properties in the whole City limits," said Adairsville Community Development Director Richard Osborne. “All those properties are also currently occupied.”
He said the Adairsville Unified Zoning Board did have some concerns about the proposed ambulance station being in such close proximity to C-1 commercial-zoned properties along the North Main Street corridor, which he said may be “negatively impacted by traffic or noise.”
The board reviewed an application from Dana Mashburn on Dec. 16, ultimately voting unanimously to recommend rezoning the Legacy Way property from C-1 to C-2 commercial with conditions. The board also voted unanimously to recommend granting the applicant a special-use permit to house emergency services at the location.
“It’s about one acre and it includes an existing building, mostly used for office and medical, that was built in about 2001,” Osborne said.
Applicant Mashburn said the building is a 1,200-square-foot space in one unit of a building that also houses a walk-in clinic and an eye doctor’s office.
She said MetroAtlanta wants to place at least one ambulance at the location and possibly four EMTs or paramedics.
“They looked extensively inside the City of Adairsville and determined that this location was the best fit for them,” she said. “It turns out, over 70% of their calls come from a one-mile radius of this location.”
Councilman Lee Castro commented on the proposal. “The only thing I am concerned about is you are backed up to some apartments,” he said.
Castro then asked the applicant when the ambulances would activate their sirens when exiting Legacy Way.
That brought MetroAtlanta Director of Risk and Safety Mike Ellington to the podium.
“Typically, they don’t turn the sirens on until you’re about to hit a major intersection or something like that,” he said. “I know there’s some concerns because of the Mexican restaurant there, but I went there and looked at it — that sign, it has the appropriate setback as required by [the Georgia Department of Transportation, or GDOT.]”
Right now, he said MetroAtlanta’s Adairsville fleet is parked at a nearby Bartow County fire station.
Ellington said the location at Legacy Way would be preferable for MetroAtlanta.
“We looked at call data and tried to figure out when are the calls occurring, and where are they occurring,” he said. “A lot of times, we’ll post the truck for four hours into an area, just anticipating there’s probably going to be a call there.”
Councilman Jerry Towe asked him what the service area for the ambulance stationed in Adairsville would be. Ellington responded by saying it’s a simple question with a complicated answer.
“There’s a massive amount of just land, geography to cover,” he said. “Secondly, if you have an accident on 75 South, if you can’t get on 140 you’ve got to come up to Cartersville.”
At that point, Adairsville Mayor Ken Carson asked Ellington if just one ambulance would be sufficient to cover the city. “I can just see a need, as we grow,” he said.
Ellington said more response vehicles can be added, pending the call volume warrants it.
“Usually, an increase in population just means more calls,” he said. “Right now, there’s literally two in Cartersville 100% of the time, and at certain times of the day, we’ll add up to three more, sometimes there’s five ambulances running out of Cartersville.”
Mashburn said there is certainly adequate parking at the proposed Legacy Way location to handle more response vehicles if need be.
Ellington addressed concerns about safety along the U.S. 41/GA-140 intersection.
“I won’t tell you we’ve never had intersection collisions, because we have,” he said. “I understand this is a dangerous intersection, particularly, making a lefthand turn out of there.”
Still, Ellington said if his company’s drivers can make it through Cobb County’s high-volume traffic, there’s no reason to expect MetroAtlanta personnel can’t handle Adairsville’s roadways.
That’s especially true, he said, with the drivers knowing their actions are being monitored.
“All of the ambulances in the entire company have what’s called DriveCam,” he said. “We can literally see a video inside the vehicle, for the two employees in the front view, so if they’re blowing intersections or doing weird stuff, we usually know that within about eight hours.”
A second reading of the rezoning and special-use request is scheduled for a city council meeting on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. at 116 Public Square.
Other motions approved at Thursday night’s meeting include:
— An item appointing Kelly Boswell and Karen Brunson to the Adairsville Development Authority for terms expiring on Sept. 15, 2024 and Sept. 15, 2025, respectively.
— An item designating Carson to serve on the Cartersville-Bartow County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Committee, with Adairsville City Manager Pam Madison approved as a designated voting alternate.
— An item authorizing the City to file an application with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for an employment incentive program grant not to exceed $750,000 for economic development projects “that will result in employment of low and moderate income persons and authorizing the mayor to execute all documents relating to said grant.”