Training center permit appeal opposed by state environmental official, review committee chair
By John Ruch
The appeal of the Atlanta public safety training center’s land-disturbance permit (LDP) is being opposed by a state environmental official and the head of the plan’s review committee.
Amy Taylor – a member of the Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee (CSAC) reviewing the plan – filed the appeal on Feb. 6 with the DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeal. The appeal claims the County improperly issued the LDP because the project would violate a state limit on sediment runoff and because its lease gives an inaccurately large number for the amount of green space set aside. A hearing was scheduled on Feb. 16 in Fulton County Superior Court for a request by Taylor, DeKalb District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry and the South River Watershed Alliance to halt the work pending the appeal.
Affidavits in opposition were filed in court by the defendant and lead planner, the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF). Among those submitting statements was Anna Truszczynski, the Watershed Protection Branch chief for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. She wrote that “many of the allegations” in the plaintiffs’ complaint seeking the work-stoppage order “are incorrect and/or misleading.” Specifically, she said, there is not a specific sediment cap that applies to the area.
Alison Clark, chair of the CSAC, also submitted a statement defending the committee and its work, saying it led to “major” changes in the plan. The CSAC has been controversial for many transparency issues, including a lack of publicly posted minutes and kicking off a member who was critical of the process. Besides Taylor’s appeal, the CSAC drew more controversy earlier this month when member Nicole Morado revealed she had resigned over the police killing of a protester at the site.
“This is yet another thinly veiled attempt to slow and/or stop development of a duly approved project,” Clark said in her affidavit. “The property on which this development is taking place has long been a dumping ground and place of unwanted activity. With the development of this site under the responsible stewardship of the Atlanta Police Foundation, the community stands to realize the true potential of an exceptional asset to the community.”
“The vast majority of the volunteer citizen stakeholders are pleased with the process and believe that the Atlanta Police Foundation has been responsible, responsive and forthcoming in its communications and its actions,” Clark added. “While those who seek to misinform would suggest that we are a mere rubberstamp [sic] for the City of Atlanta and the APF, we want to be clear that we are independent and have sought to thoroughly review all manner of data and where necessary amend design elements.”
Clark said that stopping the work would likely cause a “resurgence of trespassers and continued acts of violence by people who view our neighborhoods as a staging area for their political beliefs.”
Clark also acknowledged that the CSAC did not “raise issue” with the site’s zoning or land use because members understood the City of Atlanta is exempt from such restrictions. “While a lone member of our committee has sought to advance this appeal, we want to be clear that this action is not supported by the committee,” she wrote
The CSAC has not met since the appeal was filed and it was not immediately clear how the entire committee’s opinion about it was determined. Clark’s affidavit did not mention that the CSAC is convened and staffed by the APF itself and that its members include not just citizens, but also such officials as the Atlanta Police Department chief, the Atlanta City Council’s public safety committee chair, and the City of Atlanta’s deputy chief operating officer. The CSAC also has two vacant seats for citizen representatives.
“The property on which this development is taking place has long been a dumping ground and place of unwanted activity.”
And in one roundly tone-deaf statement, Alison Clark has proven that the chair of the CSAC has a gargantuan conflict of interest with the an unwanted activity being dumped on the community by APF and Mayor Dickens.Report
Anna Truszczynski must be referencing her-own agency’s cap on sediment in the basin when she denies there is one: https://epd.georgia.gov/document/publication/biota-impairment-sediment-tmdl-report-2017-0/downloadReport