by: Tony Thomas Updated:ATLANTA —
Efforts to change the atmosphere along Cheshire Bridge Road have hit a bump in the road.
A City of Atlanta Zoning Board delayed any action on plans to push out some of the existing businesses along the stretch of road between LaVista and Piedmont.
The area, just off Interstate 85 in northeast Atlanta, is known for the numerous adult entertainment businesses, which are scattered between restaurants, car washes, and even a store that sells baby furniture.
Resident Dr. Jerry Neumark has lived just off Cheshire Bridge for 32 years. He calls Cheshire Bridge the "main street" of his neighborhood, but is embarrassed by it.
"We have a concentration of adult businesses. Why can't adult businesses be all over? Why do we have to have one after another, after another?" Neumark said.
Thursday night, residents and lawyers for the strip club and adult video stores spoke before the Zoning Review Board.
Many of the businesses along Cheshire Bridge were grandfathered in after the city changed the zoning rules for the area eight years ago.
Residents want more retail and commercial development along Cheshire Bridge and fewer strippers and X-rated videos.
"I'm not a fancy attorney but when they say throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we are the baby, we are the baby store," said Kelly Nelson.
Nelson’s family has operated the New Baby Products for decades at the corner of Cheshire Bridge and Woodland Avenue. She and many other non-adult entertainment-related business owners fear the proposed changes would also force them out of business.
Lawyers for some of the adult businesses also insist the proposal goes too far and would be illegal.
Under the current plan, the "non-conforming" businesses would have 2-3 years to leave or apply for an extension.
"It's the most wonderful street in Atlanta," said attorney Alan Begner, who represents the Dollhouse and other businesses.
"What is being proposed is overly broad and indefensible," said attorney Aubrey Villines.
Council member Alex Wan made the proposal and was not discouraged by the delayed action.
"It gives us time to revise and possibly refine it," said Wan.
The city board will take another look at the issue in 60 days. No matter what it decides, the issue will go before the full city council and the mayor for final decisions.