Brookhaven, GA, June 28, 2017 – by Anna Williams for The Post – The Peachtree Creek Greenway (PCG) group said on Tuesday they are supporting the City of Brookhaven’s decision to utilize Eminent Domain to secure a 19-acre parcel located at 1793 Briarwood Rd., that will eventually become a trailhead for the proposed 12-mile multi-purpose linear park planned along the North Fork of Peachtree Creek. Three of those 12-miles are in Brookhaven.
According to Brookhaven leaders, negotiations with the land owner of the 19-acre tract have reached a stalemate. The City says they have been trying to settle on a fair price for the land for more than a year and it’s just not happening. So, with their mind set on owning this property, Brookhaven is forging ahead with using eminent domain – asking a Judge to decide the fair market price the City will pay the owner when they take ownership.
By law, the City of Brookhaven will be required to compensate the current owners for a fair market value for the property. The City says more than 83% of this tract is located in a floodplain and unbuildable.
“The land has been on the market since its purchase many years ago,” the PCG group said Tuesday. “According to local reporting sources, the property appears to be listed as much as 5 times more than its appraised value. The land has had pieces broken off and sold, and what remains is virtually unbuildable due to Georgia Power easements, DeKalb County sewer easements, and the flood plain.”
According to the PCG group, the Greenway is part of a regional transportation plan that has been in the works since the 1990’s. Three of the proposed 12 mile path are in the City of Brookhaven. In Brookhaven the Greenway runs along a creek, but also runs parallel to MARTA’s busiest bus route in Atlanta — Buford Highway — and one of the busiest car routes in the southeast — I-85.
PCG says unlike a typical neighborhood park, the Greenway’s length and location will ensure that cyclists and pedestrians can and will use it instead of a car. In addition to being an alternative transportation corridor, the Peachtree Creek Greenway group says the multi-use patch will save trees, clean up the waterway, improve public health, and provide recreation for people from all walks of life including walkers, joggers, dog owners, and families, accessible to wheelchairs and strollers alike.
Brookhaven’s City Council unanimously approved in March, a not to exceed $325,276 contract with the PATH Foundation to provide design work for the Peachtree Creek Greenway. According to the City, the contract total “represents a steep discount compared to for-profit firms, as the PATH Foundation leverages personal and corporate donations of professional services and overhead to achieve their mission to build a system of interlinking greenway trails through metro Atlanta region.”
Georgia Legislators also voted to approve, later signed into Law by Governor Nathan Deal, a request by Brookhaven to increase the City’s Hotel/Motel tax from 5% to 8%, setting the tax on an equal plane to what DeKalb County already assesses. A portion of the increased tax proceeds will be dedicated to the plus or minus, $38 million Peachtree Creek Greenway project.
The first phase is expected to cost $9 million, which the hotel/motel tax is expected to be used to service a 20-year revenue bond. City estimates indicate the annual amount available for construction of the Peachtree Creek Greenway from an increase in the hotel/motel tax rate to 8 percent, will be about $650,000 annually.
“The sellers want to sell and the buyers want to buy. So why use eminent domain? The selling price is the problem. The City is asking the court to help establish the price as determined by professional appraisers,” PCG says. “Peachtree Creek Greenway, Inc. supports the City of Brookhaven’s use of eminent domain in this specific case to determine a fair and equitable purchase price of the land at 1793 Briarwood Rd, Brookhaven, GA.”
There will be a hearing on this topic at Brookhaven City Hall, located at 4362 Peachtree Rd, on June 29th at 7:00 PM.