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Avondale Estates City Commission plans to condemn piece of property to extend Maple Street

Avondale Estates Business

Avondale Estates City Commission plans to condemn piece of property to extend Maple Street

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The Avondale Estates City Commission has declared its intent to file eminent domain proceedings to condemn a piece of property at 143 Maple Street. The city needs 1,775 square feet of the property in order to extend Maple Street. Image obtained from DeKalb County Tax Commissioner's Office.

By Zoe Seiler, contributor

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission met on Wednesday, June 22, to vote on issues related to the city’s street grid project, the Town Green Park design and the U.S. 278 road diet project.

The City Commission declared its intent to file eminent domain proceedings to condemn a piece of property at 143 Maple Street. The city needs 1,775 square feet of the property in order to extend Maple Street.

Michael and Joe Gargiulo own the property at 143 Maple Street, which border’s the Trammell Crow mixed-use development. As part of the city’s street grid project, Trammell Crow is constructing a new street behind their property that will connect with Maple Street. Trammell Crow is responsible for building the new street, City Manager Patrick Bryant told Decaturish.

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In order to extend Maple Street to meet or connect with the new public road that will be built by Trammell Crow, we have to enter into the process of eminent domain because the portion of that road is currently owned in a private capacity,” Bryant said at the meeting.

The Gargiulos question why the city is becoming involved in what they see as a dispute between two private property owners.

“The city did contact me with a letter from their attorney indicating here’s what we’re going to offer you and if you don’t accept the offer, we’ll go through the condemnation process,” Joe said in an interview. “That’s their prerogative. That’s fine.”

Both Joe and Michael raised concerns about why taxpayer money would go toward purchasing a piece of property that would benefit Trammell Crow development.

“The border of our property and the border of Trammell Crow’s property seems to be the access in question,” Michael said at the June 22 City Commission meeting. “I don’t see how the city of Avondale has the right as a public entity to enter themselves in a dispute between two adjacent property owners.”

Under Georgia law, the city can take this property and use it for a public road. In order to do so, Avondale Estates must pay the fair market value, which was appraised at $40,000, Avondale Estates City Attorney Stephen Quinn said.

The Georgia state constitution was amended in 2006 to “require that if eminent domain is used for redevelopment purposes, it must be for public use,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Landowner’s Bill of Rights, a state law passed in 2006, further defines “public use” as the use of land by the general public or state or local governments.

In other business, the City Commission approved the Town Green park design.

Assistant City Manager Shannon Powell presented the Town Green park design at the work session on May 13. The project includes building a park and mixed-use building along Highway 278/North Avondale Road.

The design is based on a concept designed by local architect Sheri Locke. The park design is circular in nature with various open spaces for an event lawn, performance area and a play area, Decaturish previously reported.

With the approval of the park design, Site Solutions will be able to move forward with creating the construction documents for the project.

The City Commission also authorized the city manager to enter into a contract with Stantec Engineering to finish the final construction plans for the U.S. 278 complete street project.

“Thinking about (Highway) 278 and the complete streets project…and thinking about the town green, this is no longer a ‘we hope it’s going to happen.’ This is a ‘it’s happening, folks,’” Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher said. “This is again another exciting step to get us to that point.”  

The city has been working on the project since 2014. It aims to improve U.S. 278 and includes a road diet that will reduce the five-lane road to three lanes between Sam’s Crossing and Ashton Place, Decaturish previously reported.

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The project will also add medians, parking and a sidewalk for pedestrians and bikes.

The City Commission has worked with Stantec before designing the project and will now work with the firm again to create the construction documents.

The contract will cost up to $474,366 which has already been approved by the City Commission for capital work on U.S. 278, City Manager Patrick Bryant said at the June 17 work session.

“I think I’m as excited as anyone else about this happening,” Commissioner Lionel Laratte said at the June 17 work session. “It’s bringing us one step closer and as I always say the pieces are falling into place.”

The City Commission will be again this month to discuss the city’s millage rate. These meetings will be at noon on Thursday, June 25, and Monday, June 29, via Zoom. The next work session will be at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15.

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