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Stone Mountain City Council discusses possible traffic-calming for Rockborough Drive

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Stone Mountain City Council discusses possible traffic-calming for Rockborough Drive

City of Stone Mountain Municipal Building. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Stone Mountain, GA — The Stone Mountain City Council, at its March 19 work session, discussed whether the request for proposals for the repaving of Rockborough Drive should include the installation of permanent traffic-calming.

Rockborough Drive is scheduled to be repaved as a part of the street improvements funded by the first special purpose local option sales tax. As the city is in the process of contracting out the work, City Manager Darnetta Tyus brought this item to the council asking whether they should include permanent installation of traffic-calming on the street as a part of the contract, even though it would be funded by a different source.

In March 2022, Rockborough Drive citizens filed a petition to have a traffic study done in their area to support the installation of traffic-calming infrastructure.

In October 2022, it was announced that this traffic study did not recommend traffic-calming measures. Despite this, the citizens still wanted them installed. To proceed, they needed to file another petition seeking to create a special tax district to pay for permanent traffic-calming measures.

This “petition to create a special tax district” is effectively a consent form, stating that 65% of the citizens in the area — the roughly 144 homes directly adjacent to the would-be installation site — were okay with paying a $25 tax for the traffic-calming measures. If the study had recommended traffic-calming, the city would have paid for it, but since it did not, the citizens would need to foot the bill.

The collection of these signatures has been an ongoing effort spearheaded by Councilmember Shawnette Bryant. The problem, as presented by Tyus, was that the petition to create a special tax district to pay for the permanent traffic calming still lacked the correct number of signatures. So, the city manager asked the city council for guidance on when they were expected to get the rest of them and whether she should go ahead and plan to install the permanent traffic-calming at the same time the street will be repaved.

However, Bryant responded by insisting that she did not need to ask the entire affected area and that the 48 signatures she had submitted, of the 94 required, were sufficient. Bryant repeated that she only needed signatures from the two streets on which the traffic-calming would be installed, despite the fact that the broader neighborhood would also bear the cost.

A map showing the study area for a traffic-calming concept plan for the Rockborough subdivision. Photo courtesy of the city of Stone Mountain.

There was also some discrepancy over whether the signatures were from the owners of the properties or renters. The law states that it must be the owners, more specifically the person who pays the property tax, that has to sign. Decaturish has contacted the city and Bryant for the list of signatures but has not received an immediate response.

Councilmember Teresa Crowe said she had, separately from the city, gone through and confirmed that Bryant’s petition was still short on signatures and that not all the names listed were the taxpayers directly responsible for the property for which they had signed.

This prompted a heated exchange between Crowe and Bryant that had to be broken up several times by the mayor.

Councilmember Gil Freeman said that the city should provide the names and addresses of everyone in the 154 parcels included in the “affected area.” Bryant remained insistent that what she had done was sufficient and said, “I am not going to go back to these people again.”

Tyus responded, “I verified the signatures she gave us, the problem is she doesn’t have enough… the time span has passed, but we are still willing to honor it, she just doesn’t have enough signatures.”

Mayor Beverly Jones directed the city manager to meet with Bryant to clarify what was needed. Councilmembers Mark Mariannos and Anita Bass volunteered to help Bryant collect the necessary signatures.

Ultimately, the city manager informed the council that she would send out the RFP for repaving without including permanent traffic-calming, while the next steps for the petition crystallized.

In other news-

– City Manager Tyus informed the council that the city could expect $9 million in SPLOST II. The bulk of this, $7 million, would be distributed over six years. The remaining $2 million would be broken up and given over the first two years — in addition to the chunks of the $7 million  —and the money will be accessible around early summer.

– The city council approved the purchase of a new Dell Server for the police department at an unspecified cost. Police Chief James Westerfield described the current one as “functional,” but an upgrade would allow the precinct to stay up to date for years to come.

– City Planner Richard Edwards presented the first read of a non-owner occupied short-term rental property. The owner lives outside DeKalb, but there is someone who would be the primary caretaker up the street.

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