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Avondale Estates City Commission to consider updating land disturbance ordinance

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Avondale Estates City Commission to consider updating land disturbance ordinance

Avondale Estates City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission will meet on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 5:30 p.m. for a regular meeting, followed by a work session. The city commission meeting will be held at Avondale Estates City Hall, 21 N. Avondale Plaza, and via Zoom.

During the regular meeting, the city commission will hold the second reading and vote on the land disturbance permit ordinance, which seeks to tighten some guidelines in the zoning code and offer additional guidance to the land disturbance permit process.

To join the meeting via Zoom, click here. To call in, dial +1-305-224-1968. The webinar ID is 816 3344 4233.

To view the meeting agenda, click here.

Public comments can be made either by attending the meeting in-person or through Zoom.

The ordinance outlines situations where a land disturbance permit would be required, which includes any grading, building a new structure or addition, adding 1,000 square feet or more of impervious surface, adding impervious surface when structures exceed the maximum lot coverage, and land disturbance of 5,000 square feet of land.

The ordinance also provides for exemptions for home gardening or landscaping projects, grading or land disturbance on public property by the city, work on transportation projects, building a shed, and the maintenance or improvement of an existing structure that does not involve land disturbance or adding an impervious surface.

Additionally, the ordinance creates a minor land disturbance permit for grading an area of any size to address drainage and erosion control.

The city commission will also consider adopting a resolution supporting the county’s special purpose local option sales tax and equalized homestead option sales tax, as well as authorizing an intergovernmental agreement with the county related to SPLOST.

SPLOST will be on the ballot as a referendum in November. If SPLOST II is approved by voters, it would begin in April 2024. SPLOST I will expire in March 2024. In DeKalb, the SPLOST and EHOST are tied together. If one referendum does not pass, then the other also does not pass.

According to the ballot question attached to the agenda, SPLOST will be a 1% sales tax imposed over six years to fund capital outlay projects. The Georgia General Assembly passed a bill this year that allows DeKalb County to use funds from its special purpose local option sales tax toward parks and libraries, in addition to transportation.

The Avondale Estates City Commission discussed SPLOST at its Aug. 9 work session.

“Right now, all of the member organizations, the municipalities in the county, are preparing to develop a final [intergovernmental agreement] that specifies the distribution percentages,” City Manager Patrick Bryant previously said. “It is anticipated that the SPLOST tax will generate approximately $125 million per year, with a theorized 2% growth over the six-year period in which the tax will be collected.”

The Avondale Estates City Commission is considering a ballot question that would allow the city to spend the funding in three areas – transportation, stormwater infrastructure, and public safety facilities, and capital equipment.

The county uses a formula to figure out how much SPLOST funding each city will receive, and it’s based on population. Bryant said there are some flaws in the formula.

“Basically, a city’s rewarded for their density,” Bryant said. “Since all of these monies can only be spent on capital projects, density isn’t necessarily a good measure of capital need. You have to also factor in land area.”

Bryant and Avondale Estates Mayor Jonathan Elmore presented an alternative to the DeKalb Municipal Association. The four smallest DeKalb County cities – Avondale Estates, Pine Lake, Stone Mountain and Lithonia – have less than 1% of the population distribution of the county. Their SPLOST distribution would be increased to 1% of the total take of the SPLOST funding.

“That proposal was accepted by the DMA and has been proposed to the county,” Bryant said. “If our proposal is accepted, our distribution would increase from approximately $3.6 million over the six-year span to $7.2 million over the six-year span.”

Under SPLOST I, Avondale Estates’ distribution percentage was 0.445%, according to the county website. Avondale Estates’ total SPLOST I funding is estimated to be about $2.8 million. Pine Lake, Lithonia, and Stone Mountain distribution percentages were also less than 1% for SPLOST I.

The increased funding to the smallest cities would come at the expense of the county’s SPLOST collection and would not take funding away from other cities, Bryant added.

During the work session, the city commission will discuss an amendment to the 2023 operating budget.

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