Did Brookhaven really want to seize a UPS store for the Peachtree Creek Greenway? Nope. Those references were just typos forcing the City Council to redo a vote on a land-taking for a controversial road project.
The city wanted to take a small bit of land at the intersection of Ashford-Dunwoody and Johnson Ferry roads for some intersection improvements approved last year as part of the controversial Ashford-Dunwoody Corridor Study. The legal language approved, however, included the wrong address for the taking as well as for the wrong reason. When Reporter Newspapers asked about the resolution, the city spokesperson said it included incorrect information.
“While we appreciate the Reporter Newspapers for bringing this error to our attention, we would have caught the error ourselves when the City Clerk prepared the minutes of the Dec. 11 meeting to be approved at the Jan. 8 meeting,” city spokesperson Burke Brennan said in a written statement. “A corrected resolution will be on the agenda for the council’s consideration on Jan. 8.”
The City Council at its Dec. 11 meeting approved a resolution to use its land taking authority to acquire the property listed at 3522 Ashford-Dunwoody Road #283 as part of fulfilling its master plan for the Peachtree Creek Greenway.
City Attorney Chris Balch explained to council members at the Dec. 11 meeting that eminent domain was needed for right-of-way acquisition to make improvements to Ashford-Dunwoody Road. It was the last item on the agenda and was not discussed other than to vote to approve.
The resolution authorizing the use of eminent domain was not included in the city’s online agenda packet. Reporter Newspapers requested the information and a map of the property it was trying to take and received it this week.
The resolution as approved and signed by Balch and Mayor John Ernst says the city needs 3522 Ashford-Dunwoody Road to complete the Greenway. But that address is a UPS Store located in the Cambridge Square shopping center across the street from Blackburn Park. The Greenway is about five miles away.
The site plan approved as part of the resolution showed the correct property — the tip of the triangular piece of property where Corner Pizza is located at the intersection of Ashford-Dunwoody and Johnson Ferry roads. The property is needed to make improvements to the intersection as part of the Ashford-Dunwoody Corridor Study.
Laurenthia Mesh owns the Corner Pizza and UPS Store properties, according to DeKalb tax records. She could not be reached for comment.
The small slice of Corner Pizza property is valued at $60,300 according to an outside real estate appraiser, the city’s resolution states. The city in late September offered that amount to Mesh, but it was not accepted, so city officials say they are forced to use eminent domain.
Besides Corner Pizza, Mesh owns the Mesh Corners shopping center at the X-shaped intersection of Ashford-Dunwoody and Johnson Ferry roads. She was one of several who publicly opposed making any changes to the intersection during the corridor study public input sessions, saying they would harm the businesses located on her property. The City Council eventually backed off making any major changes to the intersection.
She is also the owner of the protest community newspaper “a: Times News” that publishes periodically. The latest two issues blasted the city and its $40 million parks bond with headlines calling it the “Brookhaven Bamboozle.” Voters approved the bond Nov. 6 with 60 percent of the vote.
The improvements to be made at the Ashford-Dunwoody/Johnson Ferry intersection include extending the right lane on northbound Ashford-Dunwoody Road from south of Publix to Johnson Ferry Road and restripe the existing lanes to create one longer dedicated turn lane and one left/through/right turn lane.
The city has used eminent domain to acquire land for the Greenway.
A judge this year knocked down the city’s attempt to acquire 19 acres of land on Briarwood Road for a trailhead for the Greenway, saying the city acted in “bad faith” on the deal.
The city ended up buying the Briarwood property for $2 million. Since that time, the City Council has voted to build its new public safety building on the 19 acres and relocated a maintenance yard from Osborne Park to the Briarwood property.
The city has also used eminent domain to acquire other property for the Greenway.
A groundbreaking for the Greenway on the Briarwood property was held last week.
The city also had a typo in a legal advertisement about its $40 million parks bond validation hearing that was set for this month. The city must now go through the state-ordered process again next month.