For forty years, Mercedes Benz USA (MBUSA) has named roads after itself. Typically, these streets surround MBUSA facilities. In Vance, Alabama, where the company manufactures GLE and GL-Class SUVs, the GLE Coupe, and the C-Class Sedan, roads leading to the facility include Daimler-Benz Boulevard, M-Class Boulevard (“M-Class” is the former model for Mercedes SUVs), and Mercedes Drive.
As part of relocating their headquarters to Sandy Springs from Montvale, New Jersey, MBUSA proposed renaming Barfield Road, named for a family that once farmed in that part of Sandy Springs, to Mercedes Benz Drive.
The neighbors on Barfield Road aren’t fans of the proposed name change. According to the Sandy Springs Reporter, the Atlanta Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), which has called Barfield Road home since the early 1980s, will oppose the name change, which is on the Sandy Springs City Council’s agenda for their meeting on March 7.
According to metro Atlanta LDS spokesman Bill Maycock,
The Mercedes-Benz brand is known for prestige and luxury and class status and all that sort of thing. In the Atlanta Georgia Temple of the church, we don’t do any of that…It’s not what the Atlanta Temple is. It’s not what the Atlanta Temple teaches its members. I think it’s mostly the concept of being forced to use the Mercedes-Benz brand. The teachings of the church and the practices of the church [are] a non-materialistic view of life as taught by Jesus and the New Testament…[and a view of] equality, that we are all equal as God’s children.
MBUSA spokeswoman Donna Boland countered,
We don’t feel that the road renaming has an adverse impact or implication on church beliefs, but understand if the church feels it must voice its disagreement to the city. We are focused on being a valued member of the Sandy Springs community and hopefully that will be a more important factor than what this particular road is called.
The road renaming was originally requested in 2015, but was back-burnered when members of the Barfield family showed consternation towards the proposal.
The MBUSA relocation was a major economic win for Sandy Springs, and the renaming request is arguably commensurate with the scale of the project. What’s more, while the name change hasn’t been formally approved by the City Council, the city already agreed to pay for costs associated with the name change as part of the $3 million economic incentives and improvements package the city gave MBUSA.
Maycock told the Reporter, “A rancher is entitled to brand his own cattle, but not to brand the cattle of his neighbor.” After March 7, Maycock may want to reach out to a congregation in Vance, Alabama: the Mercedes Drive Church of Christ.
Meanwhile, in Montvale, city leaders are considering renaming their Mercedes Drive for the DePiero family who that sold their farmland to MBUSA more than 40 years ago. Either the DePieros, or they’ll rename it Wegmans Way, in honor of the supermarket chain.