Property owners criticize effort to rezone industrial corridor in Tucker for residential use

Tucker City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA — Tucker Planning and Zoning department is proposing the rezoning of eight parcels on the Tucker-Clarkston border from light industrial (M) to small lot residential mix (RSM).

The city says no potential development is driving this rezoning effort, but at least one property owner maintains there is a developer interested in this area. The city has not explicitly identified the reasons behind the rezoning proposal, other than mentioning a desire to reduce crime.

The city has been meeting with property owners in the corridor, but property owners say the rezoning process has been rushed and will not solve crime problems in the area.

The corridor includes 1581 Juliette Road, 1551 Juliette Road, 5960 E Ponce de Leon Ave., 1220 Richardson St., 1250 Richardson St., 1249 Richardson St., 1237 Richardson St., and 5160 Springview Ave.

A map showing the approximate location of the parcels the city of Tucker wants to rezone for commercial use.

The Juliette Road/Richardson Street corridor was part of the initial boundary when Tucker incorporated in 2016.

Tucker recently put a temporary moratorium on land use applications for the parcels, then acquired part of Richardson Street to improve access through road construction.

“There’s a multi-level approach to try and make improvements in this area of Tucker, and we believe this city-initiated rezoning is one step in that process, and will help comply with the goals of the comprehensive plan,” said Planning and Zoning Director Courtney Smith.

Smith said crime is a problem in the area. The DeKalb Police Department was unable to reply before Tucker Observer’s deadline, but more information is forthcoming. Smith said specifics for the Juliette Road/Richardson Street corridor will be included in the Nov. 8 City Council packet.

“City of Tucker has been working closely with the property owners and DeKalb PD to try and [reduce crime] and resolve some of the property issues in this corridor,” said Smith.

The city has meet with neighbors and property owners, but has not held a public participation meeting on the rezoning proposal. According to the city’s website, a public participation (neighborhood) meeting is required before a Land Use application which includes a comprehensive plan amendment, rezoning, SLUP, major modification) can be submitted.

“Failure to comply will result in an incomplete application, which will not be accepted,” the city’s statement reads.

However, Smith said the point of the public participation plan meeting is to gather neighborhood feedback on a proposed development.

“No development is being proposed as part of the city rezonings,” Smith said. “We have met with the subject property owners and surrounding neighbors over the past year to discuss issues in the neighborhood and possible initiatives. We will continue to reach out and schedule more meetings with them throughout the process so that they fully understand what the city is proposing and how it could improve the community as a whole and increase their property values.”

Property owners who spoke at the Planning Commission meeting said the process was moving too fast and they were not consulted.

Henrietta Kisseih, owner of 1249 Richardson Street, is one of the few women in construction in the area. She said the city’s rezoning effort seems like an afterthought.

“You have a developer who wanted something. You’ve approved everything he’s doing … without even allowing us the opportunity to brainstorm,” said Kisseih.

Tammy Pearson, owner of Pearson Landscape at 1250 Richardson Street, said she is likely the longest running property owner in the area.

“I don’t necessarily want to speak against the rezoning. I feel like the rezoning is jumping to a situation that leaves all these property owners here kind of dangling,” she said.

Pearson called the city’s statements about crime “not totally accurate and realistic.”

“Fixing the crime situation in that area, as the longest property owner in that little cluster, is a great thing. I’m all for it. I don’t know that you have the data to back up moving these existing businesses as a positive. All of the crime from that area comes from the residential structures surrounding 1250 [Richardson Street],” Pearson said, adding police records show Juliette Road is a crime center.

“I want you all to realize when you vote to rezone from light industrial to residential, that has a financial impact on property owners,” Pearson added. “When there’s a possibility of a developer coming in and making us all whole, we need more than a possibility to sign away value of our existing property.”

A public hearing on the rezoning effort is scheduled for Nov. 8 at the City Council meeting.

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