Sunday, January 26, 2020

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.

A notice posted by the county online and in the county's legal organ earlier this month said the Board of Commissioners would hold public hearings on the moratorium at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, and again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

No hearing was held at the BOC's Jan. 14 meeting and no mention was made of the moratorium during that meeting.

Two days later, on Thursday, Jan. 16, the county's Department of Planning & Sustainability removed the notice and posted a new one saying, "This item will be heard by the BOC Tues., Jan. 28, 2020 @ 6:30 p.m." That's when the commission holds its regularly scheduled bimonthly zoning meeting.

The notice did not make clear that the moratorium would not be the only subject considered at the Jan. 28 evening meeting. It also implied it would be a joint meeting of the Board of Commissioners and the county's Planning Commission.

Then, at its Tuesday morning Committee of the Whole meeting on Jan. 21, commissioners agreed to put a public hearing on a 180-day extension of the moratorium on the agenda for their morning meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28. No mention was made of the earlier announcement of a hearing at 6:30 p.m. that same day.

The agenda issued last week for the Jan. 28 evening zoning meeting says the item is "for decision by the board," language usually used when commissioners vote on an item without hearing any public comments.

There is additional confusion as to how long commissioners plan to extend the moratorium. The agenda for the Tuesday morning BOC meeting refers to a 180-day extension of the moratorium. The agenda for the evening BOC meeting refers to a 45-day extension. On Jan. 7, the Planning Commission recommended a 90-day extension.