Credit: Atlanta Police Foundation website
DeKalb Zoning Board rejects police training center permit appeal
LISTEN: GPB's Amanda Andrews explains the impact of the DeKalb Zoning Board's decision to reject an appeal on the permits for the police training center.
Wednesday, the DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously rejected an appeal over the land disturbance permit allowing construction to begin on the police training center also known as “Cop City.”
The appeal was filed by Amy Taylor and Carolyn Tucker, residents living near the site, along with DeKalb District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry. They argued the project would violate the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s water quality laws for allowable sediment.
DeKalb Zoning board members found the Atlanta Police Foundation followed state and local guidance and said further appeals should go to the EPD.
Attorney Simon Bloom representing the Atlanta Police Department said it’s "outlandish to suggest" the project is not following best management practices.
“This is the most-watched real estate development project in the region,” Bloom said. “It is being inspected every single day, which is outlandish to suggest, not only by independent and objectively hired inspectors, but also by the DeKalb inspectors.”
Vice Chair Dan Wright expressed discomfort with the decision before motioning to reject the appeal.
“I’m sorry to say so because I have reservations about this project as well, and the location that’s being selected, and of course all of the unfortunate things that have happened related to public activists,” Wright said. “We all know what those things are.”
Following the announcement of the decision, Mayor Andre Dickens released a statement thanking the Zoning Board for their decision to uphold the permit.
“A challenge to the project was also turned back by a Fulton County judge,” Dickens said. “Every part of this project has been scrutinized and has been found to be fully compliant with the law and all environmental protection requirements.”
Environmental Attorney Jon Schwartz, representing the people appealing the permit, recently requested an administrative hearing with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry said the Georgia EPD is not infallible.
“The Georgia EPD has a history of not following their own rules or procedures or federal law," Terry said. “I mean, look no further to just a couple of years ago, Georgia EPD approved a landfill recycling permit for Metro Green Recycling in Stonecrest, which later a judge threw out as improper.”
Grassroots organizers in Atlanta said they will continue protesting the police training center until the project is cancelled altogether.