Falcons stadium funding clears hurdle; Atlanta City Council to cast final vote Dec. 2 on last provision

By David Pendered

This story has been updated.

The Atlanta City Council is slated to vote Dec. 2 on the community benefits deal that must be approved before the city can provide $200 million in construction funding for the future Falcons stadium.

The Community Benefits Plan Committee approved the deal Monday night, setting the stage for the vote Tuesday in the Atlanta City Council's Community Development Committee. Credit: David Pendered

The Community Benefits Plan Committee approved the deal Monday night, setting the stage for the vote Tuesday in the Atlanta City Council’s Community Development Committee. Credit: David Pendered

The council’s Community Development Committee approved an amended deal at 7:20 p.m., almost four hours after residents of stadium neighborhoods first gathered in a crowded council meeting room.

The outcome of the city’s $200 million in stadium funding remains uncertain. Opponents have said they will file a lawsuit to prevent the city from issuing the funds.

This deal is critically important because Atlanta cannot provide any of the $200 million until a community benefits deal has been approved with the stadium neighborhoods. The areas at the table have been Vine City, English Avenue, Castleberry Hill, and the Marietta Street Artery Association.

The deal as approved by the Community Development Committee sets broad guidelines for the spending of $30 million.

The amendments approved by the Community Development Committee were approved Monday night by the Community Benefits Plan Committee, which was created by the city council to cobble together a community benefits deal.

As in many community negotiations, the challenge raised by opponents would focus on the process used to devise the community benefits plan.

Critics contend the Community Benefits Plan Committee, which was created by the city council to devise a deal, did not comply with the legislation that authorized its creation.

Controversy has surrounded the Community Benefits Plan Committee since its first meeting in July. Some of that controversy involves the question of whether the deal will be binding on anyone. Other aspects of the controversy involve specific steps the committee took along the path that led to its adoption of a deal Monday night.

The Community Development Committee approved the amended deal by a 4-0-0 vote. Those voting were committee Chairperson Joyce Sheperd and councilmembers Cleta Winslow, Ivory Lee Young, Jr., and H. Lamar Willis.

The vote at the Community Benefits Plan Committee was 9-0-1. The committee had six community members and they split their vote 3-3. The vote was carried affirmatively with votes from city officials including Mayor Kasim Reed.

Council President Ceasar Mitchell abstained from the vote, saying he thought it inappropriate for a city employee or elected official to cast a vote on a plan that was supposed to be community driven.

Here’s the roll call vote:

Yea

Beckham, Rev. Howard: English Avenue/Vine City Ministerial Alliance

Bond, Michael Julian: councilmember, Post 1, at large (committee chair)

Jacks, Charletta: Atlanta Department of Planning

Johnson, Rev. Dexter: Vine City Civic Association

Garey, Ernestine: Invest Atlanta

Johnson, Makeda: Westside TAD Advisory Board representative

Reed, Kasim: mayor

Winslow, Cleta: councilmember, district 4

Young, Jr., Ivory Lee: councilmember, district 3

Nay

Jones, Yvonne: NPU-L representative

Kessler, Kyle: Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Assocation representative

Peters, Demarcus: English Avenue representative

Abstain

Mitchell, Ceasar: council president

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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