Last fall, we reported on Walmart’s move Intown (read the story here) with varying degrees of delight and dismay from residents and local businesses. Community opposition is de rigueur for Walmart these days, but it’s been especially high in DeKalb County where one of the retailer’s “supercenter” stores has been approved as part of a redevelopment of Suburban Plaza in Decatur.
Yesterday, attorneys for Good Growth DeKalb, a citizens group calling for “healthy and sustainable” growth in the community, filed suit in DeKalb County Superior Court, contending that the county granted a building permit for construction of the Walmart Supercenter in violation of its own ordinances. Good Growth DeKalb will hold a press conference about the legal action on Monday, March 18, at 10 a.m. in front of DeKalb County Courthouse, 556 N. McDonough Street in Decatur.
Good Growth DeKalb filed an internal DeKalb County administrative appeal on Jan. 9, contending that truck, tree and hydrology ordinances were not followed in granting the building permit to Selig Enterprises, owner of Suburban Plaza. This appeal was directed to the county Technical Board of Appeals, as required by county law. However, the county directed the appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which did not have authority to hear the matter. In its lawsuit, Good Growth DeKalb contends that this appeal was erroneously heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals on Feb. 13, where it was both acted on and denied. The petition filed in Superior Court on March 15 contends that the Zoning Board of Appeals should not have acted, as it had no authority to do so.
Local dancer and poet Louise Runyon is a member of Good Growth DeKalb and has been on the frontline of the organization’s regular protests. “We formed in January 2012 and since then we have canvassed, rallied, marched, interfaced with elected officials and collected thousands of petition signatures,” she said.
Runyon says the 149,000 square foot Walmart Supercenter is too big for the property and will negatively impact traffic, small businesses and homeowners. “To give you an idea, the DeKalb Farmers Market is huge and it’s only 140,000 square feet,” she says.
Good Growth DeKalb may have another battle on its hands just across the street from Suburban Plaza. Fuqua Development has a contract on Scott Boulevard Baptist Church and wants to create more retail in the triangle where Scott Boulevard, North Decatur Road and Medlock Road intersect. Called Decatur Crossing, the development would have 40,000 square feet of mixed-use retail that includes a bank, restaurants and retail shops.