For more than two and a half years, Good Growth DeKalb has been the voice of residents concerned about the proposed redevelopment of Suburban Plaza, especially the decision to include a 149,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter at the intersection of Scott Boulevard, Medlock and North Decatur roads.
The organization’s concerns have been neighbors’ concerns — traffic, safety, emergency vehicles, the environment, good jobs for the community, small business viability and more.
“Faced with increasingly limited legal options, we accepted an invitation to meet with [the developer] Selig Enterprises, owner of Suburban Plaza, on April 17. This was a difficult decision and a difficult process and, while we continue to believe a Wal-Mart is wholly unsuited to this location, our legal battle is now over,” according to a news release.
In exchange for agreeing not to pursue further legal action against DeKalb County over the granting of the Wal-Mart building permit, the organization was able to obtain some relief for the individual plaintiffs whose homes are adjacent to the plaza. The organization also negotiated gains for the community, including a commitment from the developer to contribute a significant amount of money for a sidewalk along Medlock Road between North Decatur Road and Church Street. In addition, the developer will arrange a meeting between the organization and Wal-Mart to discuss issues of importance to the community.
Moreover, as a result of the legal fight, the county has confirmed that it has never staffed or operated the Technical Board Appeals that the county code of ordinances establishes as the review panel for many issues, including building permits.
“It is our hope that this admission will lead to better and more efficient governance and management of our county in the future in accordance with our laws,” according to a news release. “We are especially grateful for the support of our community, who stood with us during this long fight – and for our many donors, large and small, who enabled us to work to make our county and our neighborhoods a better place to live, work and play. We are very proud that, together, we’ve built an organization that is a recognized presence in DeKalb County, a force to be reckoned with, and that we are part of a movement spreading all over the country to encourage smart development, improve our communities and say no to unwanted development.”
The organization is working with other community organizations to ensure the new county zoning code reflects the best in zoning practices as well as community interests. It is gratified to have helped defer a vote on the new code over concerns that it still fails to address the ability of aggrieved parties to appeal unwanted development. The organization said it will continue to work with county officials and other neighborhood groups to resolve this issue before the zoning code next comes up for vote at the board of commissioners meeting May 27.