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Townhomes move forward in Stone Mountain

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Townhomes move forward in Stone Mountain

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

Stone Mountain, GA — At its Mar. 5 meeting, the Stone Mountain City Council voted to approve the rezoning request for 6803 James B Rivers Memorial Drive. 

The request was for this property to be rezoned from traditional residential to mixed-use residential. This would allow the developer, Christopher Hunt, to build a 16-residential unit, three-commercial unit development and encroach into the “undisturbed natural buffer.”

The rezoning request was filed in October 2023 and initially was not approved as the proposed site plan intruded on the stream buffer zone mandated by city ordinance, which doesn’t allow construction within 50 feet from a stream. On Dec. 6, Council rejected the rezoning request without prejudice, remanding the matter back to the planning commission and allowing Hunt to reapply with a site plan in line with city code. 

Hunt’s new plan still has some sections of a grass pave parking lot intervening into the “undisturbed natural buffer zone,” but given that this is a pervious surface—one that Hunt says allows water to seep in, which filters it and limits the exacerbation of run-off and erosion—and not the building itself, the city elected to approve the rezoning request with conditions. 

The full list of conditions can be viewed here, but the most notable mandate the developer establish an HOA to manage upkeep of the property and provide a $100,000 bond to address deficiencies in “water quality and mitigation efforts.” There were also additional conditions added, at the behest of Councilmember Teresa Crowe, that mandated the developer get a Land Disturbance Permit within 12 months and a Foundation permit within 18 months of the approval of the rezoning request or else it expires. 

At the public hearing, no residents spoke in favor of the project and two residents opposed it. One resident, Mike Cooper, stated his objections on the grounds that no environmental agencies had been consulted whether the development “requires a variance or merits one” 

Cooper critiqued the overall lack of specificity in measurements of the conceptual site plan and lamented the fact the current plan still intercedes into the buffer zone. 

”This is not the type of developer you should trust with a conceptual plan, instead of a site specific plan,” Cooper said. 

Councilmembers Shawnette Bryant also voiced opposition, saying that she has been against this project throughout her many years on council. 

The Council ultimately approved the rezoning request 4-2 with Councilmembers Gil Freeman and Shawnette Bryant voting no. 

In other news:

The council approved a 2022 budget revision. City manager Darnetta Tyus presented that over the course of the 2022 audit, the city had gone over budget in a few areas—Administration, Public Safety, and Capital Outlay (the specifics can be viewed here on pg. 67)—totaling to $265,511. She said this amount had been covered by excess revenues. The item was presented as a formal approval of reallocation of funds to address this overage, so it wouldn’t be listed as an “audit finding” which, if left unaddressed, may come back to penalize the city in the future. 

In discussion of this item, Mayor Beverly Jones asked if the auditor was in attendance to present on this item and given he was not, she argued for postponing until council could receive a presentation from them. 

Councilmember Gil Freeman insisted he did not have time to read the item and concurred with the mayor, saying, “You had it explained to you, I’d like it explained to me” after Tyus’ explanation. 

City Manager Tyus responded, imploring the council not to delay the approval. Tyus explained city staff were trying to close out this audit, and continue with bringing the city’s finances up to date. “This wasn’t something that took hours to read. We gave you the chart. It was pretty simple to see… this is a simple revision,” said Tyus. 

The Council ultimately approved the revision 4-2 with Councilmembers Gil Freeman and Shawnette Bryant voting no. 

Tyus also updated the city on the ongoing attempt to address sinkholes across the city. According to Tyus’ report, of the initial nine sinkholes six have been fixed, and the city is actively addressing the last three. 

The city manager also asked council if city staff should proceed with Councilmember Freeman’s council inquiry for records about the city’s Downtown Development Authority. Councilmember Freeman had said that he would have liked to know the time to be dedicated and cost of that time, before choosing to proceed. The city manager presented a cost-of-time estimate given the similar scope of the inquiry to Councilmember Freeman’s previously filed open record request. Since the last request took 220 hours, the city calculated how much it would cost in paid time to fulfill (providing no additional staff is required) and came up with an estimate of $19,651.04 (calculation method can be viewed here on pg. 67). Councilmember Anita Bass asked Councilmember Freeman if he could elaborate on what he was looking for to which he responded that he, “couldn’t comment on an active investigation.” The city elected to proceed with the inquiry with a vote of 5-0, with Councilmember Freeman abstaining. 

Council also appointed Bass to serve as council’s representative to the DDA.

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