County leaders take bus tour of southeast DeKalb

DeKalb commissioners and its CEO piled into a MARTA bus Friday for a tour of the southeastern portion of the county, the area that had lacked full representation until Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson was elected last month.

The county’s government leaders saw vacant land ripe for development, parks, industrial areas, a historic dairy farm and a variety of residences — from blighted homes to an upscale neighborhood.

The three-hour trip was a rare occasion for the politically divided commission to come together, seated elbow-to-elbow, for a casual morning outing. They ended the tour with a barbecue lunch.

Johnson said she brought the commissioners together to show them the promise of her 144,000-resident district.

“They’re seeing many of the jewels we have in the Fifth District: green space, medical facilities, Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area,” she said. “There’s just so much potential here for economic development. We want to attract the type of businesses in the Fifth District that would make us all proud.”

Johnson said she wants to work with the commission and the administration to recruit businesses, create jobs and improve quality of life.

The southeast DeKalb district is the largest in the county, covering 83 square miles. With 1,725 residents per square mile, it’s the least dense district in the county.

Besides attracting business, Johnson also hopes MARTA will extend its rail system eastward along Interstate 20 so that it reaches to Stonecrest Mall.

Johnson won a special election in July, filling the seat that had been vacant since former Commissioner Lee May became DeKalb’s interim CEO two years ago.

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