Atlanta City Council OKs $925,000 settlement for Peoplestown home

Council member Jason Winston during discussion as the Atlanta City Council held their first in person meeting since they were suspended at start of the pandemic In Atlanta on Monday, March 21, 2022.   (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

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Council member Jason Winston during discussion as the Atlanta City Council held their first in person meeting since they were suspended at start of the pandemic In Atlanta on Monday, March 21, 2022. (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

Atlanta City Council has approved the purchase of one of the homes ensnarled in the longstanding legal dispute between the city and residents in the Peoplestown neighborhood.

After more than 30 minutes in closed-door executive session on Monday, council members emerged and unanimously voted to authorize the settlement of the city’s lawsuit against Dwayne Agard for his home on Ormond Street.

City Councilman Jason Winston said the Agards will receive $925,000, which includes $200,000 the city previously deposited into the Fulton County Superior Court Trust Registry for the property.

In 2014, then-Mayor Kasim Reed urged the council to pass an ordinance for the use of eminent domain to take dozens of homes in the southeast Atlanta neighborhood for the purpose of building a flood prevention park across a city block. Several residents refused to take a deal, spurring the city to sue them in 2016.

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September 26, 2019 Atlanta: Local resident Lillian Miller holds a 2009 photo of flooding on the site in Peoplestown where it happened. Four residents remain hopeful their legal fight with the city to keep their home will end soon, while other longtime Peoplestown residents say they’ve been plagued by flooding and that the pending litigation has kept the city from progressing on a retention pond that would prevent further flooding. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

September 26, 2019 Atlanta: Local resident Lillian Miller holds a 2009 photo of flooding on the site in Peoplestown where it happened. Four residents remain hopeful their legal fight with the city to keep their home will end soon, while other longtime Peoplestown residents say they’ve been plagued by flooding and that the pending litigation has kept the city from progressing on a retention pond that would prevent further flooding. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

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September 26, 2019 Atlanta: Local resident Lillian Miller holds a 2009 photo of flooding on the site in Peoplestown where it happened. Four residents remain hopeful their legal fight with the city to keep their home will end soon, while other longtime Peoplestown residents say they’ve been plagued by flooding and that the pending litigation has kept the city from progressing on a retention pond that would prevent further flooding. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Winston said the funds will come from four different accounts, including the city’s Water & Wastewater Revenue Fund.

The money will be sent to the court registry for dispersal among Dwayne Adgar, Arnold Adgar, and the Evans Law Firm, according to a copy of the resolution.

The settlement now awaits Mayor Andre Dickens signature, and it comes after the mayor told WABE last week that the city now has data showing the homes would not survive a massive flooding event. Dickens said the city wants to buy the homes at a fair market value in order to build an underground stormwater vault covered by a water retention garden and pond.

The mayor’s spokesman said conversations with the other residents are ongoing and confidential.

“Mayor Dickens supports positively resolving Peoplestown in a manner that is mutually beneficial for all parties, as evidenced by this settlement agreement,” the mayor’s spokesman said in a statement.

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September 12, 2019 - Atlanta - Peoplestown residents Bertha Darden (left) Tanya Washington in front of Washington’s home. For the past five years, Peoplestown residents have been in an ongoing legal battle with Atlanta after the city attempted to take their properties through eminent domain. The city approved a proposal that would allow them to purchase the homes located near a flood zone and convert the land into a reservoir and park. Since then efforts to seize the four remaining properties that sit on a stretch of Atlanta Avenue it southeast Atlanta have stalled. Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com

September 12, 2019 - Atlanta - Peoplestown residents Bertha Darden (left) Tanya Washington in front of Washington’s home. For the past five years, Peoplestown residents have been in an ongoing legal battle with Atlanta after the city attempted to take their properties through eminent domain. The city approved a proposal that would allow them to purchase the homes located near a flood zone and convert the land into a reservoir and park. Since then efforts to seize the four remaining properties that sit on a stretch of Atlanta Avenue it southeast Atlanta have stalled. Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com

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September 12, 2019 - Atlanta - Peoplestown residents Bertha Darden (left) Tanya Washington in front of Washington’s home. For the past five years, Peoplestown residents have been in an ongoing legal battle with Atlanta after the city attempted to take their properties through eminent domain. The city approved a proposal that would allow them to purchase the homes located near a flood zone and convert the land into a reservoir and park. Since then efforts to seize the four remaining properties that sit on a stretch of Atlanta Avenue it southeast Atlanta have stalled. Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com

At the council meeting on Monday, hours prior to the council’s vote, two Peoplestown homeowners spoke for nearly 20 minutes and criticized the city’s efforts to take their houses. They said the city needs to publicly disclose the evidence that supports the need for their homes to be destroyed for the project.

Tanya Washington told the council that her attorney said on Friday the city is offering her more than $1 million for her home. But she said Dickens promised on the campaign trail last year that he would find a way for them to keep their homes while still building flood protections in the area.

“We’ve been hearing lies after lies after lies,” Bertha Darden said. “Where’s the data for the taking of the 27 homes? Where is the data? Prove it or leave us alone because it’s not fair.”