Applicant withdraws annexation effort in Stonecrest due to ‘misinformation’

Credit: City of Stonecrest

Credit: City of Stonecrest

An effort to annex nearly 20 acres into Stonecrest for the development of a gravel truck parking lot is over — for now.

The applicant withdrew the annexation and rezoning application Monday after public opposition prolonged the process for months. Jody Campbell, an attorney representing the property owners, said they might return once they’re better prepared to handle the residents’ pushback and environmental concerns.

“There’s been a great deal of misinformation about the project,” Campbell said during a Monday meeting.

The City Council — who appeared for an in-person meeting for the first time since March 2020 — voted unanimously to grant the withdrawal.

The property at 1724 Rogers Lake Road is in unincorporated DeKalb County and borders Stonecrest’s city limits. Campbell’s client, GBG 2 Lithonia Group, planned to bring their 19.7-acre property into the city and rezone it to develop a gravel parking lot for hundreds of tractor-trailers.

DeKalb doesn’t allow gravel parking lots in its code, but Stonecrest does. The city revamped its zoning code last year to allow gravel lots since they can be less disruptive to tree root systems and are easier to maintain.

Campbell previously said gravel lots are significantly cheaper than asphalt, and he argued the development would receive better regulation in Stonecrest while also bringing in extra tax revenue. He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that building the parking lot in Stonecrest, which requires a 10-foot-tall fence, would be less intrusive for neighbors.

“Citizens wouldn’t even know this was there,” he said. “But in DeKalb County, it would be a big (visible) parking lot like we see at the airport. Those are our two choices.”

The project received significant opposition from residents, who continued pushing back on the annexation request via written comments read at the meeting. Residents said the city’s industrial sector is already too large and encumbering neighborhoods. They also raised concerns about the environmental concerns of diesel trucks, adding that southeast DeKalb has become a dumping ground for less desirable projects that wouldn’t be proposed for more affluent cities, such as Dunwoody or Decatur.

Campbell argued large trucks already park along the side of nearby roads, including Rogers Lake Road, which he said shows the high demand for more parking. He said they requested the withdrawal to provide more time to get an environmental expert as an advisor to clear up confusion and lead to a “more well-rounded, more thoroughly vetted project.”

“This project is going to happen,” Campbell said, adding that he intends to bring the project back for Stonecrest’s consideration in the next few months.