After neighbors’ concerns about traffic and noise appeared to be appeased, the Fountain Oaks Kroger expansion plan won approval from the Sandy Springs Planning Commission.

In addition, the developers have agreed to clean up pollution from dry-cleaning chemicals on part of the site.

“We’ve gone through an extensive negotiation,” said Woody Galloway, an attorney for Kroger and shopping center owner EDENS, Inc., adding that agreement was reached just days before the Aug. 20 meeting. The agreement covers fencing, landscaping and placing more delivery functions inside the building to reduce noise.

Kevin Nellis and Paul Wendlandt, representing neighbors on West Belle Isle Road, supported the plan.

The expansion of the Kroger at 4920 Roswell Road from 61,000 to 84,000 square feet would allow for a wider selection of goods and would include a full renovation. The project still requires Sandy Springs City Council approval.

The developers also plan to purchase a public housing apartment building at 151 West Belle Isle Road and turn it into parking. Federal approval on that deal is pending and it is not a formal part of the approved plan.

EDENS and Kroger also have agreed to clean up groundwater contamination at the Belle Isle apartments. Galloway said the developers won a state brownfield designation for the site, which gives them immunity from liability for the pollution in exchange for cleaning it up.

That pollution is part of a long history of contamination on and near Fountain Oaks, consisting of dry-cleaning chemicals from at least two sources, according to officials at the state Environmental Protection Division.

A dry cleaner that formerly operated within Fountain Oaks released solvents that contaminated local soil and groundwater, according to David Hayes of EPD. The soil was cleaned up in 2008 and monitoring continues, currently showing very low contamination levels, Hayes said.

The pollution on the Belle Isle Apartments site also is monitored and appears to show low levels, according to Hayes and Teresa Davis at the Housing Authority of Fulton County, which owns and operates the apartments.

That pollution also involved dry-cleaning chemicals, but it came from a different source than the old Fountain Oaks dry cleaner, Hayes said.

EPD has not determined whether nearby Chastain Cleaners is a source, but contamination appears to come from the property it sits on, Hayes said. He said it is possible that the Belle Isle Apartments’ contamination came from several different sources.

Chastain Cleaners owner Sarah Lim said that she tested her property at EPD’s request three or four years ago, at a cost of $10,000, and that no contamination was found. “We don’t have any pollution,” she said, adding that her business follows proper chemical-handling procedures.

Davis said the housing authority is aware of the pollution and has followed state reporting requirements.

“At no time has the health or well-being of any tenant been at risk,” she said.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.