Clayton residents attending the county commission’s first meeting of the new year next week might feel a bit of deja vu when they see what’s on the agenda.
The commission is expected to revisit a controversial land use plan it approved just a few weeks ago that rezoned hundreds of acres that are in the flight path of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for an entertainment district.
This time, however, Clayton leaders say they’re going to listen to the public.
“I think the vote was done in haste,” said Commission Chairman Jeff Turner. “We need to slow down and hear from the general public before we decide what’s the best direction and fit for the county.”
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The Clayton Commission in a 3-2 vote in late December rezoned land in Mountain View from industrial to commercial without informing property owners or getting public input.
The landowners, Realtors and residents in the area protested, saying the new zoning would hurt their chances of finding tenants or buyers for their property because commercial developers don’t want to be around noise from the airport.
“They are devaluing our land for something the market won’t even allow,” said J.R. Wright, a Mountain View landowner.
The debate comes as Clayton is trying to find ways to play catch up with the rest of metro Atlanta in economic development. While the south metro community has seen expansions of logistics operations over the last few years, it has not lured marquee business relocations such as the Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Sandy Springs or big redevelopment projects such as Ponce City Market in Atlanta.
Incoming Commissioner DeMont Davis, who could be the deciding vote on the divided five-member board, said he supports revisiting the land use plan to get more public buy-in.
“It’s the proper thing to do,” he said. “Give the business owners in the area a chance to vent, but also to play a part in the development of Clayton County.”