Stuart Rd CUP

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May 2018

There has been a lot of contentious talk on various web forums about a recent conditional use permit that was approved on Stewart Rd, inside 285 right behind the old waffle on Buford Hwy. I wanted to publicly state how I came to my decision to vote yes on this project.

This property has all sorts of problems that cannot be “grandfathered” when it is redeveloped. The original “Star Towers” office building project from over 10 years ago ended up falling though, in large part because of these issues. Several times the city has tried to initiate demolition of the buildings on the property. I’m actually glad the city never spent the $250,000 of tax payer money, on private property. A large portion of this property is in the FEMA floodplain, there are DeKalb county right of way issues going through part of it, as well as stream buffer problems along the whole length of the property and these are state waters. That has kept this property sitting there blighted and unsafe for decades because of all of this.

 

For it to become a "public green space" which several people mentioned, the city would have had to purchase the property and pay for a park to be built, with money we don't have just laying around. Again, this was not city owned property being sold like some have speculated. We also can't expect a private owner to just allow anyone to use it for free, just like we don't let people come hang out in our private back yards. My further understanding is: they are going to be renting it out to other organizations, which likely will be enrolling kids in our city to play soccer there. There also is an opportunity for the city to rent the fields, expanding our sports programs to this side of town. IMHO the city doing this will cost much less than buying the property, building it out and then maintaining it.

I've also talked to a local developer after this came before the planning commission: for "single family homes" to be built there, with the price of the property and the limited density given the floodplain issues etc., it would require 2+ million-dollar homes to be built there, right at 285 and Buford Hwy. I don’t think that is a reasonable expectation. Also, two of the three lots are zoned O-I so those two lots would have had to be rezoned R1 right next to commercial zoning, only the one lot next to the cluster-homes is R1. The city shot down a multi-family housing developer who was interested in trying to develop there recently, and -anything- built there is going to increase traffic. The only way to insure no increase in traffic, is to keep saying no to anything that comes before us.

I personally walked the property and then went door knocking 2 afternoons the week before the council meeting, talking to a dozen+ families who live nearby the property, and what I heard was the majority were OK with it, as long as there were conditions on noise abatement and the dog park was taken off the table. The dog park was removed, hours of operation were set, and I have a noise ordinance review set for the June 4th work session to look at tightening up our aging noise policy. The only downside I really see from this is the tax reduction (which would also happen if this had been turned into a public green space), which I believe will be more than recovered when the properties around this long time blighted mess are redeveloped.

I know some people were against this, I personally saw this as the only likely development opportunity for this challenged property anytime in the foreseeable future. While you may not agree with my assessment, please don't think I took this decision lightly or that someone influenced me or anyone to vote for this. Also, be aware the citizen planning commission voted their approval for this (one member voted no), with less conditions than the city council placed on the developer. No one on the council, including me, had made up their mind before the meeting and when I was talking with residents, I just wanted to make sure: If this passes, we have conditions in place that protect the residents. Please feel free to share this with anyone you like, and I'll be happy to talk about this to anyone who lives in Doraville, my cell number is listed in my signature.

Stephe Koontz

City Council Member, District 3

678-373-7021 City Cell
 

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