Three DeKalb commissioners oppose development, Decatur annexation

In a surprise move Decatur’s planning commission did not recommend a proposed development for 9.71 acres located within the wedge created by North Arcadia Drive and East Ponce de Leon Avenue. In recent weeks the project’s received favorable preliminary response from city commissioners, several school board members and surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Current plans call for 289 apartments—roughly 70 percent one-bedroom and 30 percent two-bed—two retail buildings totaling 12,000 square feet and a 50,000 square foot grocery long rumored to be Publix.

Early estimates anticipate the development would produce only 8 to 10 school-age children.

Only 1.4 acres currently lie within Decatur. But on Feb. 5 city commissioners accepted a petition to annex 14 parcels owned by 11 landowners, which, if ultimately approved, would assimilate the entire package into the city.

Prior to the planning commission vote, DeKalb County Commissioners Kathie Gannon and Jeff Rader delivered statements opposing the project. Gannon emailed her statement to the AJC, which was signed by herself, Rader, and Commissioner Steve Bradshaw who also attended the March 13 meeting.

In her text Gannon said that revising the zoning from light industrial to residential/commercial “would change the character of the area north of the Avondale Marta Station and destabilize the industrial zoning on East Ponce.” She also added, “Annexations based upon a private developer leveraging one local government against another are opportunistic and should not be an acceptable zoning practice.”

When reached by phone several Decatur officials expressed displeasure with Tuesday’s DeKalb presence.

“It is very rare for county commissioners to attend a Decatur meeting,” said Mayor Patti Garrett, who didn’t attend. “I was not aware, and none of our commissioners were aware, they were coming.”

Garrett added the project could return before the commission as soon as Monday, March 19, and that city could “accept or not accept” the planning commission vote.