Two industrial parcels remain in limbo for Tucker-initiated rezoning

Tucker City Council met Dec. 13 to vote on a city-initiated rezoning of 8 parcels. Screen shot of the Tucker City Council meeting.

Tucker, GA — The city of Tucker is moving forward with rezoning eight light industrial parcels off Juliette and E. Ponce de Leon Avenue, making the land available for future residential use. Two parcels on Richardson Street are being deferred to a March City Council meeting while the owners work to come into compliance.

City staff said the rezoning is a move to combat crime in the area, which includes more than 500 reports from 2016-2020 of simple assault and battery, 12 counts of rape and 145 drug-related charges according to data provided by DeKalb County Police.

According to a memo, light industrial zoning “does not align with the Suburban Character Area, the adjacent zoning districts, or the surrounding residential uses.” The comprehensive plan shows changing the area to residential.

At the City Council meeting on Dec. 13:

– 1581 Juliette Road was approved 5-2 with Councilmembers Noelle Monferdini and Pat Soltys voting no.

– 1551 Juliette was approved 5-2 with Monferdini and Soltys voting no.

– 5960 E. Ponce de Leon Ave. was approved 6-1 with Monferdini voting no. This was the only parcel changing from M (light industrial) to C-1 (commercial). A gas station is being built on the land.

Soltys departed from the meeting early before the next votes. Following Soltys’ departure:

– 1249 Richardson St. was approved 5-1 with Monferdini voting no.

– 1237 Richardson was approved 5-1 with Monferdini voting no.

– 5160 Spring View Ave. was approved 5-1 with Monferdini voting no.

– 1220 Richardson St. and 1250 Richardson St. were deferred to March 2022, and the moratorium was extended to give owners time to come into compliance. It passed 5-1-1 with councilmember Anne Lerner voting no.

Monferdini did not respond to questions about her votes. Soltys wrote in email, “My votes were based on what I think the zoning should be. I voted yes for the C-1 and no for residential small lots.”

Richardson Street is a partially paved connector street in an area of aging apartment complexes and half-empty industrial lots. The city of Tucker began the process months ago to make Richardson Street more accessible, before moving to rezone nearby parcels from light industrial to small lot residential.

On Sept. 13, City Council voted unanimously to put a moratorium on accepting new business license applications in the area, as advised by outside counsel Brandon Bowen.

Tucker Planning and Zoning Director Courtney Smith presented a first read to City Council on Nov. 8, when owners of the Richardson Street lots started vocally opposing the rezoning.

Bowen, an attorney who has previously assisted Tucker with land use, said the value of each property was determined by the number of units that could be placed on the parcel.

“We obtained an analysis from an appraiser who is very familiar with the Tucker area to look at the potential uses that would be viable in that area … the proposed new zoning classifications for each of these is going to provide a more valuable use, closer to the highest and best use for these properties,” Bowen said at the Nov. 8 City Council meeting.

Bowen hired appraiser Bruce R. Penn, member of the Tucker Downtown Development Authority to report the market value. The DDA is a quasi-governmental agency that markets downtown and commercial corridors to potential business owners, bringing redevelopment and revitalization to Tucker.

Penn disclosed his relationship with the city in his report.

Penn’s feasibility analysis, dated Sept. 23, shows the value of each property as currently zoned and as small lot residential.

“I have inspected the above reference property and evaluated any economic impact resulting from the proposed change in zoning by the City of Tucker of the subject property,” Penn wrote in the analysis.

Smith said in her presentation on Nov. 8, “The M zoning appraisal values are based on comps in the industrial corridor and then the proposed is based on the number of units RSM have on the property and what the improved value would be.”

Penn’s appraisal report states 1220 Richardson St. is .5 acres valued at $48,000-$60,000 currently zoned as light industrial. It could hold three homes on site resulting in a value of $105,000-$180,000.

The report says 1250 Richardson St. is a 1.6 acre lot being leased for $2,500 per month by Raul Mejia, which needs upgrades to come into compliance. The property allows for 6 units. It is currently valued at $142,000-$177,000 but under residential zoning, it would be valued at $350,000-$600,000.

That’s far less than market value, the current owners told City Council.

Mejia is in a lease-to-own contract with Tammy Pearson, owner of an adjacent lot at 1250 Richardson St. Both fear losing money if the city pushes forward with rezoning. Mejia wants to combine the two lots and transfer his construction business from Peachtree Corners to Tucker.

“My concern is we’re going to lose a lot of money if you agree to the rezoning,” said Mejia.

“We disagree strongly with the appraiser’s report,” said Pearson, who said a commercial real estate agent advised her to list 1250 Richardson St. at $450,000. “Your numbers are different from the real world.”

Smith said Mejia is operating in Tucker without a business license and parking vehicles in the buffer zone, both of which are against city code. Mayor Frank Auman proposed Mejia take 90 days to come into compliance and apply for a business license in Tucker to remain operating under an exemption. The two parcels will come back to City Council on March 14.

City Council approved the deferral 5-1.

“Thank you all,” said Auman. “It was a difficult solution but I think it’s heading in the right way.”

The Tucker Observer is a new community news website owned by Decaturish.comWe provide locally sourced news about Tucker, Clarkston and Stone Mountain.

For more Tucker news, follow us on Facebook by clicking here. Follow us on Twitter by clicking here

Want the latest news from the Tucker Observer delivered to your inbox every morning? Click here to sign up for our free daily newsletter. 

To become a paying supporter of Tucker Observer, click here