Decatur City Commission shoots down proposed storage facility on Clairmont RoadA rendering of the self-storage facility proposed for Clairmont Road.
The Decatur City Commission at its meeting on Aug. 20 unanimously rejected zoning for a proposed storage facility along on Clairmont Road.
The decision followed more than an hour of public comments, most of them against the idea. Stein Investment Group wanted to build a self-storage facility on Clairmont Road near the YMCA, which would’ve required changing the zoning from residential to commercial and annexing land at 1121 and 1123 Clairmont Road into the city limits.
Commissioners did not consider the annexation petition once the zoning was voted down. The Planning Commission also had recommended denial of the project. Both boards were concerned about the precedent the development would set due to its proximity to a neighborhood.
“I think all of us are struggling a little bit as to whether this is the right development for this particular property at this particular time,” Mayor Patti Garrett said.
Julie Sellers, an attorney representing the developer, urged the commission to judge the project on the merits. She said that the property would generate tax revenue for the city without burdening local schools.
“Is it a change? Yes, but it’s a positive change,” she said.
Sellers also said there were more people in support of the project who were not present at the meeting.
“You haven’t heard from a vocal majority of folks speaking in support of that,” she said. “That is not indicative of a lack of support.”
Many people in the room laughed when she said that, but quickly quieted when Mayor Garrett admonished them.
City Schools of Decatur Superintendent David Dude also spoke during public comments. He said the School Board did not have an opinion about the merits of the project, but added, “The district is in favor of things that help balance our revenue streams and property tax dollars.”
Sellers argued that the rights of the owner of the property slated for the storage facility were just as important as the rights of the neighbors surrounding it.
“You don’t have a legal right to any view corridor, or to any air corridor or any light corridor,” she said. “That would be choosing one property owner over another.”
Commissioners did not find the argument persuasive.
Commissioner Brian Smith said at first he thought the project might bring some benefit to the city. But as he dug deeper into it, he had some concerns.
“This is a critical gateway into the city,” Smith said. “I’m leery about the spot zoning and precedent it could be setting. I don’t think this is the appropriate way to develop it.”
Commissioner Kelly Walsh said she did her homework, too, and came to a similar conclusion.
“I was trying to marry up right project, right place, right time,” Walsh said. “To be honest, I can’t quite get them to marry up.”
This is the second time this year the City Commission considered a development tied to an annexation. In June, the Decatur City Commission ignored the Planning Commission’s recommendation to deny rezoning for a much larger mixed-use project near the Avondale MARTA station. The City Commission approved it in a rare 3-2 vote and approved annexing 11 parcels on east Ponce de Leon Avenue and Grove Place.
Editor’s note: This story was reported by viewing a live video stream of the Aug. 20 Decatur City Commission meeting.