Doraville, GA, August 16, 2016 – by Trey Benton – Many of Doraville’s Carver Hills residents, their families and offspring, have lived in a ‘historic’ community since the neighborhood was created back in the late 1940’s, in preparation to build the Doraville General Motors (GM) site. During those times, GM purchased land from 50 or so different African-American Doraville residents and relocated them to the GM created neighborhood. It was named in honor of George Washington Carver, and was intended for African-Americans only.
Today, the neighborhood still remains an all African-American community.
Now, nearly 60 years later, the wheels of change are once again turning and Carver Hills residents are in unanimous support of selling their homes and moving on. But their plans, however, will have to wait a little longer because on Monday, Doraville’s City Council deferred the case to their September meeting, stalling the project another 3 weeks.
Doraville Mayor Donna Pittman, who was in favor of the project being approved during Monday’s meeting but didn’t get a vote on the matter because she can only vote as a tiebreaker, apologized to the Carver Hills residents and to the developer, Century Communities of Georgia, LLC., for the delay. “I respect my Council, and we don’t always agree,” she said.
A group of residents and their representatives from the Carver Hills community, were in attendance to show support of the project moving forward. They voiced their displeasure with the idea of a deferral and suggested the situation seemed eerily familiar because nine years ago, they had a proposal come to them to sell to a developer. That proposal died on the vine, and property owners fear a similar outcome if the City Council stands in their way of selling their properties to a new prospector.
“What you have here, is a matter of dealing with progress,” said Pete Scott speaking in support of the project, as he did back in 2006. “The Council’s job is about improving the City, always. As Councilmembers I’d like for you to think about what contributions this [project] will make to your City.” Scott said there is seemingly something fearful about change. “I don’t get it,” he said. “You have to move when you have an opportunity to move.”
Maxine MacDaniel said nine years ago, she stood in the exact same spot she did Monday, before the Doraville City Council professing her community support. “There must be some change,” said MacDaniel. She said almost 58 years ago, General Motors (GM) decided they wanted to help a whole community and they helped give housing. “It hurts me,” MacDaniel added. “And it bothers me a little bit to hear a Councilperson sit here and say ‘I didn’t know about this’. This has been going on for nine years, so to say that you haven’t heard or you didn’t know about it, and we were just here a week ago…there’s something wrong. You need to check your Council.” She asked Council to give the Carver Hills residents a fair chance.
Residents who spoke in opposition to the project said they could be negatively impacted by traffic increases, enforcement of existing cut-through traffic, stormwater management, flooding and tree loss. They said the City needs to address these concerns prior to any project approval.
Stuart Anderson, a former Planning Commission Member, said no one wants more than him to see the Carver Hills development go through. He said though there are issues that need to be addressed from a Planning perspective as the project moves forward. He said traffic patterns coming in and out of the new development need to be looked at. He said in his opinion the price point being proposed for the homes in the development – from $300,000 for the townhomes and $400,000 to $500,000 for the single family homes – do not indicate a particularly high quality product.
Former Councilmember Tom Hart, who sat on the Council back in 2006 when the Carver Hills neighborhood was in previously in play, said he did not think putting a retention pond in the middle of a flood plain was wise and made little sense.
Residents and elected officials from Dunwoody, which this development borders, were also in attendance and spoke on the fact they had no notice this development was taking place until the last-minute and said they supported a deferral to give the developer a chance to talk with their community.
Jerry Penn from the Dunwoody North Civic Association gave developers her card in hopes there could be a community meeting on the topic. “Since we just found out about this on Saturday night, there’s no way I could gather up the community to come here tonight,” she said. “But I think that we should have the courtesy of addressing some of our concerns and how it impacts the quality of our life.”
Dunwoody Councilman John Heneghan spoke in opposition to the project as it stands today because of the lack of a hydrology study. He said the City of Dunwoody has taken a look at the site plan and has concerns regarding the handling of stormwater. He said his City engineers would like to see a hydrology study conducted prior to the property being rezoned. “Basically,” Heneghan told Councilmembers, “We just want to make sure the site is being taken care of…the water that is coming off…and that the water and that the retention pond is not in an area that you’re disturbing the current flow of water.”
The Carver Hills residents want the City to move forward and urged the Council to consider that many of the residents are elderly, in poor health and just want to move on. Mayor Pittman said she wants to see the Carver Hills residents have their chance. She said she feels confident the project will be approved during the September meeting.
Carver Hills is bounded on the west by I-285, on the northwest by apartments located in the City of Dunwoody, on the northeast by a townhome development, on the east by Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, and on the south by an access road. A single street, Carver Circle, runs from the access road into the property.
Century proposes to redevelop the property into a “signature community” of 50 single-family detached residences and 198 townhomes.
The case is expected to go before Doraville’s City Council again on September 6th. See the developers proposal below.