On July 26th, a mass email was sent out from SRCA E-News. It referred to information from the City of Tucker Staff Report that was recommending denial of “The Rise” application. This email spurred not only some confusion, but also a request from city leadership for SRCA to clarify, which we do herein.
The SRCA seeks to provide timely and accurate information from our own research and sources to our community. To that end, and in response to one of our city council members to gauge the pulse of the community, for example, we have held board and community meetings with the developer and are now conducting our second online petition related to “The Rise”. Adding confusion and complexity to the public forum was not the E-News blast’s intent. We deeply regret any confusion and concern inadvertently created in the urgency to highlight some of the seemingly alarming language found in the Staff’s Report in response to The Rise’s application.
Interest arose throughout the Smoke Rise Community around language inserted in the Staff Report that had not appeared in the previous application’s staff response. Specifically, residents were concerned with the language of #6 in the “Criteria to be applied—Comprehensive Plan Amendment” section. Found here: http://tuckerga.gov/criteria-making-land-use-decisions/ the introduction to Criteria for Making Land Use Decisions Reads completely as follows (italics and underlines are ours):
"When considering a land use petition, our staff, Planning Commission and City Council use the criteria listed below. This is important for residents and stakeholders to know as they speak for or against an application at a Public Hearing. This criteria can also be found in Article 7 of the City of Tucker Zoning Ordinance. Both the applicant and staff do an analysis of how the project does or does not meet the criteria. Both analyses can be found in the Planning Commission and City Council packets.”
The Language in Question:
Criterion #6 reads: "Whether there are other existing or changing conditions affecting the use and development of the affected land areas which support either approval or denial of the proposed land use change."
The complete staff response to this criteria in the current application reads as follows
(Note: Italics and underline formatting were added by SRCA to denote language in question that generated confusion)
"The DeKalb County Community Agenda indicates that 'although forecasts by the Atlanta Regional Commission suggest a slight turn-around in future manufacturing employment, little activity among manufacturers has been occurring lately' (p. 28); the relative inactivity of manufacturers in the county constitutes an existing condition that supports the re-designation of the subject property from light industrial to another designation. However, the proposed site plan with a predominate residential component is too far reaching from the type of uses that could be supporting in an industrial park. A change from a distribution facility to office or commercial still keeps the essential job productivity, while residential will remove the employment center identity. The by-right zoning allows over 100 types of land use activities besides a distribution facility, which the applicants argues will never be used again. These uses include but are not limited to hospitals, colleges, offices, indoor recreation, special event facilities, retail warehouse/wholesales, small scale retail under 5,000-square feet, and restaurants. Staff will note that the city has been approached by two industrial developers who are interested in constructing large warehouses in the Mountain Industrial Corridor, further indicating the strength of the corridor. These developers have stated that there is a draw to develop industrial warehouses in Tucker due the high demand for overnight/2-night shipping and our proximity to metro Atlanta (close proximity to a large consumer base).”
Information about the entire corridor was NOT included in the previous staff response to The Rise’s application, as shown below: (Again, italics and underlines are ours)
"The DeKalb County Community Agenda indicates that “although forecasts by the Atlanta Regional Commission suggest a slight turn-around in future manufacturing employment, little activity among manufacturers has been occurring lately” (p. 28); the relative inactivity of manufacturers in the county constitutes an existing condition that supports the re-designation of the subject property from light industrial to another designation. However, the proposed site plan with a predominate residential component is too far reaching from the type of uses that could be supporting in an industrial park. A change from a distribution facility to office still keeps the essential job productivity, while residential will remove the employment center identity.”
The added language was misread by SRCA representatives to assume the language was specific to the Sears property because there is another question in the same set of criteria, #2, that specifically addresses adjacent and nearby property or properties. Criterion #2 reads: “Whether the proposed land use change will adversely affect the existing use or usability of adjacent or nearby property or properties” and seems a fitting location to discuss interest in the corridor in general whereas #6 does not specify adjacent or nearby properties and Staff’s response to #6 clearly indicates it is referring to the “subject property.”
Once it was brought to their attention, the city of Tucker publicly clarified that the developers in question are not interested in the “subject site” (The Rise), but “locations south of Hwy. 78, more than a mile away from the proposed Sears development site.” The clarification did further confuse as to why this content was included in the #6 criteria rather than #2 as the developers are not looking at the subject site or even adjacent properties, but this incident provided your all-volunteer board with an opportunity to further improve processes. We deeply regret any confusion we added to an already very complex reading. Please don’t hesitate to respond to email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
Posted by: Michael J. Huerkamp, President, SRCA, August 6, 2017