Monday, February 3, 2020

Meeting this week on Kensington-Memorial Drive Overlay zoning

The county has scheduled a meeting Thursday night on zoning plan changes it wants to make along Covington Highway between Memorial Dr. and I-285 and in a separate area around I-285, Durham Park Rd. and Redan Rd., including the intersection of Redan and S. Indian Creek Dr.

More than two years after DeKalb County adopted two tiers of a Kensington Memorial Overlay District, the county's Department of Planning and Sustainability wants to give them new names and allow car-rental businesses along Covington Highway.

The department plans a meeting on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the Covington Place Shopping Center, 4100 Covington Highway, Suite 300, Decatur, GA 30032. (A Dollar Tree opened in the shopping center last summer.)

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Former Sears, Sam's Club to become Stonecrest offices

The City of Stonecrest is proposing to move city offices into a former department store and an empty big-box retail space near Stonecrest Mall.

The city has filed a notice of "urban redevelopment" plans to make improvements to a former Sears department store on a 15-acre site at 8020 Mall Parkway so that it can be used as the city's Government Administration Services Building.

The Sears store at the Mall at Stonecrest opened in October 2001 and closed in December 2017. Last October, the Stonecrest City Council approved the purchase of the building for $2.1 million.

The city also wants to take the former Sam's Club at 2994 Turner Hill and turn it into a new City Hall for Stonecrest. The warehouse club store closed abruptly two years ago when Sam's Club closed 63 stores nationwide in one week.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Commissioner Cochran-Johnson hosts 2020 Voting Town Hall

There will be demonstrations on how to use DeKalb County's new voting machines at a Voting Town Hall to be hosted by Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson this coming Wednesday.

People can register to vote at the event, which takes place on Feb. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center, 3181 Rainbow Dr., Decatur,

Representatives of the Georgia Secretary of State's office and the DeKalb Board of Registrations & Elections are expected to participate.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Taxpayer-funded study suggests Ferris wheel on Memorial Drive

A permanent Ferris wheel on Memorial Drive is one of the suggestions of the Memorial Drive Revitalization Corridor Plan, which says the the public is not asking for major changes along the thoroughfare that runs from Interstate 285 to Stone Mountain.

DeKalb County Commissioner Steve Bradshaw last year allocated $140,000 of his District 4 reserves for the study. The county's Department of Planning and Sustainability Department contributed another $34,500 to help pay for the team of consultants.

"A permanent ferris wheel that that could be visible from Stone Mountain," is a potential concept for the area along Memorial Drive near Hambrick Rd., according to a portion of the report seen by PRISM DeKalb. Atlanta already has a 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel at Centennial Olympic Park.

The report says the public has asked to "preserve shopping plazas as they are" along Memorial Drive. It also says the public wants to "leave the corridor alone."

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Hearing tonight on county's dollar-store moratorium

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners will hold a hearing tonight on an extension of the current 45-day moratorium on new applications for "small box discount stores."

A request by the Department of Planning & Sustainability to extend the moratorium for 180 days is on the agenda for the BOC's evening zoning meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. It is the last item on the agenda.

The agenda published for tonight's zoning meeting states that the moratorium extension is an "Item For Decision By The Board," meaning that there would be a vote but no public hearing, contrary to an announcement on the Department of Planning & Sustainability's web site.

Acknowledging the conflicting information, Interim County Attorney Vivian Ernstes urged commissioners to hold a public hearing at tonight's zoning meeting.

(See related story, "DeKalb County dollar-store moratorium vote Tuesday")

DeKalb commissioners delay vote on MARTA amendment

The DeKalb County Commission on Tuesday unanimously (7-0-0) deferred until next month action on a 15th MARTA contract amendment. Clayton and Fulton counties and the City of Atlanta are part of the agreement.

The amendment would allow "the collection of additional half penny and extension of time for the collection of the full one penny MARTA tax."

Commissioner Larry Johnson said the agreement would bring "much-needed assets into our areas of South DeKalb."

"We're not where we want to be, but we're not where we used to be," said Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson. "People need to know how expensive it is to maintain MARTA." She said that the amendment is independent of the idea of rail service to Stonecrest.

The amendment has been criticized by activist Ed Williams, who says "anybody who supports or extends the current MARTA contract and its amendments should be removed from office."

"Fifty years after the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, MARTA wants to deny citizens their right to vote in a referendum to extend the sales tax as the law requires. DeKalb and Fulton, and the City of Atlanta have been members for almost 50 years. What do we get for it? MARTA offers us more debt, no more transparency, no referendum, no new project list, no new train stations, and less control of our sales tax or investments," Williams wrote in a commentary for the Atlanta Daily World web site.

DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader noted that the county's deadline for action is February 17 and failure to vote would be considered a sign of "disapproval."

Clayton County has delayed a vote on the amendment until Feb. 4.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Clarkston mayor to run for DeKalb County Commission

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry says he will abandon his effort to run for the U.S. Senate and will instead seek election to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.

Taylor told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he will resign as mayor of Clarkston in March so that he can run for the District 6 seat now held by Kathie Gannon, who represents the western half of DeKalb County. Gannon announced earlier this month that she would not seek re-election.

DeKalb County dollar-store moratorium vote Tuesday

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners will Tuesday consider an extension of the current 45-day moratorium on zoning applications for "small box discount stores."

The county has issued conflicting information on when there will be public hearings on extending the moratorium, making it unclear when citizens can comment on the proposal and when commissioners will vote on it.

It now appears that the Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposal on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. But they won't vote on it at that meeting. Apparently, commissioners will vote on the moratorium extension at their evening zoning meeting. It will be the last item on the lengthy zoning agenda Tuesday evening and it appears that the public will not be able to comment on the proposal.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Renovation begins of Stone Mountain library after delays

Asbestos abatement work has begun at the Stone Mountain-Sue Kellogg Library, more than six months after the downtown Stone Mountain library was closed for a $1.5 million renovation.
While a groundbreaking ceremony for the renovation was held last July, there had been no obvious signs of work at the branch until this month. The branch was closed on June 15 to prepare for the renovation.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Clarkston to consider Baptist expansion plans

A public hearing has been scheduled at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 4, by the City of Clarkston on a proposal by the Southern Baptist Convention to build athletic fields and facilities at 961 Rowland St. and 3673 Hill St.

The application by the denomination's North American Mission Board asks for a conditional use permit in support of the church's mission and church-related activities.

A DeKalb Superior Court judge ruled last month that the North American Mission Board had the right to request demolition of two historic homes. NAMB President Kevin Ezell said the homes were "generic houses that are vacant and uninhabitable."

DeKalb state legislator urges hair discrimination protection

A state Senator from Lithonia has proposed legislation to protect people with "braids, locks, twists or other textured hairdressing historically associated with an individual's race," the Associated Press reports.

Senate Bill 286, filed by State Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia), has the support of State Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta), who says she was told last year by another legislator that she looked better without her braids.

"No individual shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of such individual's protective hairstyle," unless it interferes with their work, the proposal says.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

$148,000 settlement in DeKalb County excessive force case

DeKalb County has agreed to pay $148,000 to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed sheriff's deputies used excessive force in July 2013 when they served a warrant over a $1,000 fee in the middle of the night at an Ellenwood home.

After a two-hour executive session that included another matter, DeKalb County commissioners voted on Tuesday to approve the settlement of remaining claims by Donovan Hall and others against Sgt. Dan McGhee and others in return for a dismissal with prejudice of the lawsuit that they filed (15-CV-00428).

Clarkston plans Jan. 27 annexation hearing

The City of Clarkston has scheduled a public meeting on Jan. 27 on its proposal to annex 620 acres that include two neighborhoods south of the city

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says the city has scaled back an earlier proposal that would have annexed a broader area that included North DeKalb Mall and DeKalb County's 40-acre Little Creek Horse Farm.

The city says the town hall meeting will take place on Monday, Jan. 27, at the Clarkston Community Center at 7 p.m.

The annexation can only take place if approved by the General Assembly and a referendum involving residents in the proposed annexation area.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Commissioner Kathie Gannon won't seek re-election

District 6 Commissioner Kathie Gannon, who was first elected in 2004, does not plan to seek another term in office.
A written statement from Gannon says it is time "for the next generation to move on up, to provide the energy, initiative and new ideas to build upon what we have started to continue progressive movement forward in DeKalb County."

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Clarkston halts curbside recycling because of rising costs

Clarkston has ended curbside recycling in the city and plans to open a temporary recycling location before the end of January.

The city says Waste Management, which handles the city's trash collections, wanted a 20 percent fee increase to continue to provide curbside recycling collection.

"Waste Management advis[es] the City that a very large percentage of recycling collected ends up in the landfill due to contamination," a statement from the city says.