DeKalb fights growing pains with green space initiative

From Atlanta News First

By Savannah Louie
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 7:28 PM EDT

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) – A solution to metro Atlanta’s growing pains has taken root at DeKalb County libraries with “productive urban landscapes,” or green spaces.

DeKalb County Super District Six Commissioner Ted Terry said six of the county’s 23 libraries have transformed their landscaping into green spaces for the community.

“We actually have a lot of space outside the library,” said Terry. “During the pandemic, there was a real emphasis on outdoor learning spaces.”

A green space contains grass, trees, shrubs, or other vegetation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. While green spaces provide a range of socio-economic benefits for communities, development poses a threat to natural ecosystems.

80 percent of DeKalb County is already developed with no sign of slowing down. According to the Urban Land Institute, the Atlanta region is expanding faster than any settlement in human history.

The DeKalb green space revitalization comes at no extra cost to the community.

“We’re already spending a lot of our taxpayer money on [public landscaping], but we’re shifting it to a more ecologically and sound system,” Terry explained.

Research from NASA finds green space exposes the body to good bacteria and can help improve mood, depression, neurological behavior, and stress.

Green spaces are also associated with lower rates of crime and can reduce the cost of public services, like police protection, sewer, and road maintenance, according to DeKalb County.

“We’re shifting the paradigm. We’re creating a more organic productive landscape,” said Terry.

The landscaping project in DeKalb County is facilitated by Georgia landscaping nonprofit Roots Down. Roots Down provides opportunities for local government and businesses to improve sustainability within landscaping.

Roots Down CEO Jamie Rosenthal said the pandemic highlighted the need for activating more green space.

“People are sad. They’re riddled with anxiety, depression, mental illness – and a lot of that can be helped by being outside and connected to nature,” said Rosenthal. “Nature is one of the best healing forces on the planet.”

Rosenthal said landscaping, a $140 billion industry, holds a lot of room for improvement.

“I would say people give it really little thought,” said Rosenthal.

Productive urban landscapes, also called edible landscapes or permaculture landscapes, contain pollinators and native plants that don’t require watering. Many of the plants produce edible fruit for the public.

DeKalb County commissioners approve rezoning for Kensington MARTA station development

Originally posted in Decaturish

DeKalb County, GA — The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is moving forward with a project to redevelop the Kensington station. The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved MARTA’s rezoning request for the property at the end of April. 

The station is located at 3350 Kensington Road at the crossroads of Covington Highway and Memorial Drive. The study area includes 35 acres that currently house 1,912 surface parking spaces.

The property was rezoned from R-75 (residential medium lot-75), MR-2 (Medium Density Residential-2), and C-1 (Local Commercial) zoning districts to MU-5 (Mixed Use Very High Density) zoning district to allow a future mix of land uses to implement the Livable Centers Initiative plan and transit-oriented development goals at 3350 Kensington Road.

MARTA is working on creating a master plan for the Kensington MARTA station, which is located just outside of Avondale Estates. The master plan will direct the rezoning of the 35 acres surrounding the station and enable redevelopment from the private development community, according to the project website.

“We are grateful for the support of the DeKalb County Commission and this vital rezoning designation,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood in a press release. “We are now ready to solicit developers to work with MARTA and DeKalb to turn the undeveloped and underused property around the rail station into a community hub with affordable housing and neighborhood amenities.”

In June 2022, MARTA and the county kicked off the master planning process. The Kensington TOD Master Plan includes affordable senior and workforce housing, and a new headquarters for the Housing Authority of DeKalb County (HADC).

“We have worked alongside MARTA in developing this TOD master plan and it is exciting to help achieve this milestone,” said DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry. “This type of development with convenient access to transit builds strong, connected communities.”

In the press release, Commissioner Steve Bradshaw said he has long supported MARTA and the important role the agency plays in community development.

“The Kensington TOD will provide affordable housing and other amenities while reflecting the diversity and spirit of our county and serve as a catalyst for the planned revitalization of Memorial Drive,” he said.

Representatives from the consulting firm working with MARTA presented the rezoning plans to the DeKalb Board of Commissioners on Feb. 28. 

“MARTA has had a series of goals that ultimately led to this rezoning,” said Sarah McColley, urban designer at Perkins and Will. “They wanted to encourage a mixed-use walkable environment with housing, retail, office, and a new approach to parking. They want to offer a variety of housing choices at different price points, increase ridership on the MARTA system and generate revenue for MARTA, and then improve multimodal access and safety to the station and on the streets around the station.” 

The county’s Livable Centers Initiative plan envisions the Kensington MARTA station as a regional center. 

“In a more local view, it also can be a centralized destination for the surrounding community and the residents around it while we’re connecting to broader networks of trails and greenspaces,” McColley said. 

MARTA has hosted various public engagement opportunities throughout the master planning process. 

“The main themes that we heard is that making walking and biking easier and around the station is really important, that we need to add public greenspaces with recreation and space for events, offer a variety of housing types and make them affordable, adding quality retail and restaurants, including things for daily essentials, and then building a walkable mixed-use community destination,” she said. 

To make the station a neighborhood gathering place, the plan and rezoning application set design parameters that address the themes. 

“The first one is to create a connected street network with walkable blocks and better crossings over the tracks, redesigning the current stormwater pond into a usable public space, improving pedestrian and bike access to the station with additional access points, trails, and sidewalks, make it easier to access the bus bay from the street, creating a usable event space or park including a permanent location for Station Soccer and then testing smaller scale development types like small multifamily buildings and mixed buildings,” McColley said. 

The plans for the station aim to maximize flexibility for MARTA. Perkins and Will has created three street and land use frameworks that address the design parameters and create developable blocks. In all three options, the south side of the property has a new street connection to Covington Highway, a MARTA parking deck, townhomes, and other mixed-use buildings. 

For the first option, the north part of the property is arranged around a more square town green. Station Soccer would overlook the stormwater park in the northwest corner, and a series of multifamily and mixed-use buildings would overlook the town green. 

The second option is more organized according to the surrounding street network. 

“We have one continuous street on the north side connecting over the MARTA tracks down to Kensington Road, and then this one has a bigger town green in the center,” McColley said. “Again relocate Station Soccer to overlook the stormwater park and then the south side is consistent.”

The third option uses more of the current layout for the parking lots to organize the street network.

“[It] has a center town green that’s a little bit smaller, but because of that, we were able to fit in some smaller apartment buildings or smaller mixed-use buildings,” McColley said. “Station Soccer remains where it currently is located. Those larger mixed-use buildings overlook the green spaces and the stormwater park.”

The plan addresses parking needs, as the property currently has about 2,000 parking spaces. MARTA is looking to reduce the number of parking spaces, but new parking will be needed to accommodate the new development. 

“It also expands bus service by reconfiguring the current bus bay and connecting the bus bay to the street network,” McColley said. “That allows the bus bay to be opened up to have four or five more bays, and that’s necessary because MARTA is looking to expand bus service at Kensington.”

Training center challenge appealed to Superior Court of DeKalb County

By Riley Bunch, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A challenge of the land disturbance permits issued for Atlanta’s planned public safety training center has been appealed to the Superior Court of DeKalb County.

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry filed paperwork on Wednesday against the DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision that the county acted appropriately during its lengthy permit review process for the construction site.

Terry wasn’t immediately available for comment Thursday morning.

DeKalb County gave the go ahead for construction to begin in January, nearly a year after Atlanta applied for land disturbance permits to build the facility.

In February, two DeKalb County residents, along with Terry, filed a formal appeal of the permits which accused the city and county of overlooking existing restrictions on sediment discharges.

But the DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the challenge during a meeting in April after unanimously deciding that the county’s months-long process to issue the permits complied with all requirements, and denied a request to halt the project.

A Fulton County Judge also denied an injunction that would have pressed pause on construction prior to the zoning board’s decision.

The appeal to the Superior Court of DeKalb County argues again that the planning director for the county overlooked environmental concerns caused by additional sediment deposited into Intrenchment Creek due to construction.

“The (Zoning Board of Appeals) erred by upholding the land development permit because the proposed construction will add sediment into Intrenchment Creek in violation of state law,” the new filing reads and requests the Superior Court takes up the case for review.

DeKalb County Commission defers vote on stormwater fee increase

Originally published in Decaturish

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb County Commission is considering raising the stormwater utility fee for residents for 2023-2025. The board deferred the vote during its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 9. 

The commission will discuss the fee at its next committee of the whole meeting, which is scheduled for May 16. 

The residential stormwater utility fee is currently $4 per residential unit. If the proposed increase is approved, the fee will increase to $8 per month in 2023, $9 per month in 2024, and $10 per month in 2025 and for subsequent years.

The county has not increased the stormwater utility fees since 2004. The utility was created in 2003 and became operational in 2004.

“It has been almost 20 years since we’ve had a stormwater rate increase, so this is not an option,” Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson said. “It is now absolutely necessary due to the cost associated with the program. However, I want everyone to be comfortable with what is happening here. I believe that before we move the item forward officially, we should have a conversation in committee as to the rollout so that the public is completely engaged and aware.”

Some of the county’s stormwater infrastructure includes many retention ponds, catch basins, storm drain pipes, ditches, culverts, headwalls, and outfalls. 

“To me, it is not apparent that this fee increase will be enough to handle that entire load, but this is a good start,” Commissioner Ted Terry said. “It’s a good movement in the direction of clearing the many, many years of backlogs.”

The county needs help when it comes to stormwater infrastructure, Presiding Officer Robert Patrick added. 

DeKalb’s public works and infrastructure committee recommended approval of the agenda item with a 2-1 vote on May 2. Terry voted no. Terry, Cochran-Johnson and Patrick are on the PWI committee.

Some concerns have been raised about making sure the community has an opportunity to learn more about the increase. In an email to other commissioners dated May 4, Terry said he asked for a two-week deferral to better inform the public. 

“Regardless of how many discussions were had at PWI on this issue, no one from the public were in attendance at these meetings, and no other commissioners were at those meetings,” he said. “The public now knows about this agenda item simply because it was put on the agenda Tuesday, by the CEO.”

Terry added the increases could lead to sticker shock for some customers.

“Some of our largest payees of these fees are schools and churches,” Terry wrote. “And those institutions know nothing about this… but they will find out pretty quickly once they get a surprise in their tax bill mailing later this summer, amounting to thousands of dollars in unplanned for fees that will now have to be addressed mid-way through their budget years.”

DeKalb Public Works Director Richard Lemke said during the May 2 PWI committee meeting that prices have increased over the last 20 years, and the county has had a decreasing ability to maintain the stormwater system.

“We’ve got infrastructure that’s failing simply due to age,” Lemke said. “What we’re trying to do is accommodate the needs of the system and of the infrastructure and our ability to provide the maintenance that this county so badly needs on that infrastructure.”

The increased fee would allow the county to hire additional crews to perform stormwater work, such as pipe and pond maintenance.

“It is a critical item for us,” Lemke said.

Possible City Episode 11: Commissioner Ted Terry from DeKalb County, GA

In the eyes of the court, Commissioner Ted Terry may technically call himself “aggrieved,” but you wouldn’t know it to speak with him. A dedicated environmentalist in the sprawling Atlanta suburbs and a committed progressive in the American southeast, Terry is used to being a bit of a contrarian, albeit a highly productive one. As a two-term Mayor of Clarkston, Georgia, Terry made headway on issues from LBGTQ+ and immigrant rights to adaptive reuse of a local mall. Now that he’s on the DeKalb County Commission, he finds himself squarely in the middle of one of the most contentious and high-profile political stories in the country: the proposed Atlanta Police Training Facility in the South River Forest. On this episode of The Possible City, Commissioner Terry talks with Cate and Kerry about his entry into politics working on pedestrian safety issues and how we weave housing, economic stability, the environment, and public safety – all hot-button issues! – into a coherent and practical political worldview.

Commissioner Ted Terry holds ‘DeKalb Green New Deal’ kick-off event

From Decaturish

DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry hosted an event at the Maloof Auditorium to kick off a “DeKalb Green New Deal” initiative on April 17. 

Additional events during Earth Week include webinars on clean energy, environmental justice, and green jobs from April 18-20. Terry will speak at Decatur’s Earth Day celebration on April 22.

In addition, Terry plans to introduce a resolution to allocate $100,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for a Green New Deal development fund at the Board of Commissioners meeting on April 18.

“As we know, climate change is already here,” Terry said while explaining why he feels DeKalb needs the initiative to address climate change. “Georgia is one of the fastest warming states in the country.”

Storms are increasing in frequency and severity, causing more frequent flooding, which puts lives and property at risk and strains emergency services, Terry said. Heat waves, flooding, and erosion will affect agriculture in many parts of the state and strain the power grid and other infrastructure.

Terry says that the goal of a DeKalb Green New Deal is to simultaneously address the effects of climate change on the county while creating new jobs through renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green infrastructure. 

A Federal Green New Deal introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2019 did not pass. Still, some of the same policies were incorporated into the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

Terry said that hundreds of millions of dollars are available through grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and the US Department of Agriculture.

“This really is the best time to act,” Terry said.

Terry said that less than 2% of DeKalb County remains undeveloped, including 3000 acres of the South River Forest. Most of the forest is currently zoned industrial, therefore, not protected. The South River Forest also includes the proposed site of the controversial police training facility called “Cop City” by activists.

Dr. Jacqueline Echols, Board President of the South River Watershed Alliance (SWRA), said that she got involved in conservation because of a 1999 consent decree between the EPA and the City of Atlanta, which came about because the city was dumping raw sewage into the Chattahoochee and South Rivers. She began work related to the consent decree after receiving her doctorate in Political Science from Clark Atlanta in 1999.

Echols said that the South River is a headwater of the Ocmulgee-Altamaha River Basin, which drains about one-quarter of the state of Georgia, and is one of the three largest river basins in the Eastern Seaboard. 

Echols said that DeKalb has been the major source of sewage pollution in that river system since 1961, and in 2010, five decades of violations resulted in an EPA-enforced consent decree. 

Echols said that 76% of residents along the upper South River corridor from south Atlanta to south DeKalb County are Black. Eighty-six percent are non-white people of color. Pollution contributes to significantly higher rates of health problems such as asthma among those populations, who are 80-100% more likely to live near wastewater discharge.

“What’s going on with the Atlanta forest is probably one of the most horrific environmental injustices that is taking place in this country today,” Echols said.

Echols explained that despite some improvements, Atlanta and DeKalb wastewater still pollutes the South River water system, affecting everything downstream, including places like Macon that take drinking water from the Ocmulgee watershed.

“The system operates by overflowing. So, you need the green space along the creek and the river to clean the water as it moves downstream,” Echols said. 

Increased stormwater due to climate change, along with any development that will increase runoff, is likely to worsen existing erosion and pollution problems, which will cost taxpayers money to fix.

“The city of Stonecrest has committed over a million dollars to dealing with the stormwater at Panola Shoals. It comes from Atlanta. It comes from upstream,” Echols said.

Echols said that SRWA does cleanups, water sampling, and advocacy. The organization is currently working on encouraging recreational use of the river, which is key to dismantling what Echols calls a “culture of avoidance” and improving water quality. Echols said that since the Georgia Environmental Protection Department prioritizes recreational areas, encouraging recreational use is part of protecting the river. 

Terry said that in addition to offering information, part of the purpose of the events this week is to seek input about the community’s priorities. Terry said that the resolution he presents to the Board of Commissioners on April 18 only sets aside money and that specific projects will be brought back before the board for a vote.

“For instance, last year, we did $10,000 to the Decatur Greenway to build a bioswale,” Terry said. At least 40% of the fund will go to communities impacted the most by climate change and environmental injustice, including those along the upper South River corridor described by Echols.

Terry said that Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funding could be used in addition to the ARPA funds for some of this work.  Terry said that the legislature has passed a new “clean” SPLOST for DeKalb, and the Board of Commissioners will meet next Thursday at 10 am to discuss projects.   

Terry said that he hopes to build on past successes and plans to hold a DeKalb Green New Deal summit on Oct. 14 of this year to discuss what has been accomplished up to that point.

“We can lead for ourselves and encourage others by doing so,” Terry said.

DeKalb County is launching a Green New Deal initiative during Earth Week

From the Georgia Sun

The “DeKalb Green New Deal” kickoff event is set to take place on April 17 as part of Earth Week celebrations in DeKalb County.

Hosted by Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry, the initiative aims to engage the community in local climate action and advocate for greener public policy.

The Maloof Auditorium in Decatur will house the event from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Terry emphasized the need for transformative investments to address ongoing health, economic, racial justice, and climate crises.

“The time is now to advocate, innovate and execute transformative investments that address the interconnected and ongoing health, economic, racial justice and climate crises we are facing today,” said Commissioner Terry. “The DeKalb Green New Deal initiatives that I seek to initiate will focus on strategies that DeKalb County can implement to help meet President Biden’s ambitious climate and environmental justice goals and build an equitable, pollution-free future.”

Following the launch, Earth Week will feature town halls, webinars, and educational opportunities for county residents. The Zoom Webinar Series includes discussions on a Just and Equitable Green New Deal (April 18), Clean and Efficient Energy (April 19), and Conservation and Access to Nature (April 20), all taking place from 7 to 8 p.m.

Those interested in attending the kickoff event can register at https://actionnetwork.org/events/dekalb-gnd-kick-off. For webinar registration, visit the respective links provided in the press release. For more information, contact Miranda Rupkey, DeKalb County Super District 6 Project Administrator, at 404-371-6353 or msrupkey@dekalbcountyga.gov.

Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry, elected in 2020, represents about 350,000 residents from South, Central, and North DeKalb. His platform focuses on affordable housing, transit equity, the DeKalb Green New Deal, DeKalb voting rights, and criminal justice reform. For more information about Commissioner Terry and his platforms, visit www.commissionertedterry.com.

DeKalb Zoning Board rejects police training center permit appeal

From GPB News

April 13, 2023 4:55 PM
By: Amanda Andrews

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 canceled altogether.

Decatur mayor, local leaders tout clean energy investments in the state

Originally published in Decaturish

Decatur, GA — Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett and local leaders, including DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry, celebrated the federal investments being made in Georgia related to clean energy during a press conference on April 11 at the Decatur Recreation Center.

Georgia has been allotted about $83 million in federal funding through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Local cities and counties like Decatur and DeKalb County haven’t received federal funds yet, but can apply for grants through various agencies like the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the state Environmental Protection Division and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to a press release, these investments will improve energy efficiency, accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, and lower energy costs for Georgia families with the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

“I am thrilled to celebrate these historic federal clean energy investments that will advance our plans to cut pollution, lower our operational costs, and lower energy costs for our communities,” Garrett said in the press release. “Decatur has ambitious sustainability goals to meet in the coming years, including a total transition to clean energy for our municipal and community buildings, and weatherization efforts that reduce energy usage are key to meeting our targets and making our communities more resilient to a changing climate.”

Decatur is developing a comprehensive strategy to utilize federal funds, mobilize the community, and implement clean energy measures. The city of Decatur recently adopted its clean energy plan, which sets goals for the city to transition away from fossil fuels and toward a resilient, renewable future.

“This document, Decatur’s Clean Energy Plan, is intended to guide Decatur’s energy transition and address the city’s contributions to the climate crisis while also improving living conditions and addressing equity issues,” the executive summary of the plan states. “This plan describes a path to a Clean Energy Future while facing an aggressive goal and conditions outside of Decatur’s control.”

When the city was working on the 2030 Strategic Plan, climate action became a top priority.

“Acting on a key recommendation of the city’s clean energy plan, the city is working to create a community energy fund to complement the available federal funding to support low and moderate income households and their ability to take advantage of these programs,” Garrett said during the press conference.

Every year during the city’s Martin Luther King Service project, volunteers do minor repairs on homes of seniors and part of that includes weatherization.

“We want to expand that program and also work with our land trust to be able to make sure we’re meeting the needs in the community that don’t have access to the funding for putting in insulation or replacing systems and those kinds of things. We’re using the time now as grants are being released [to see] what are we a city eligible for,” Garrett said.

During the press conference, speakers highlighted how federal funding will address the needs of communities with access to fewer resources.

“Today, we’re shining a light on a critical component of Georgia’s plans to significantly reduce our energy consumption, and create a lifeline for many through efficient, effective home weatherization,” Terry said in the press release. “The expansion of programs like WAP, which help low-income families reduce their energy bills, will have a profound impact on those communities that are on the front lines of a housing crisis and facing increasing costs to cool and heat their homes.”

Weatherization is a key aspect of the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Terry said during the press conference.

“It’s the process of making homes and buildings more energy efficient, which in turn reduces the amount of energy required to heat and cool them,” Terry said. “It’s achieved through a combination of very basic things, including sealing air leaks, insulating walls and attics, and upgrading the heating and cooling systems. The benefits of weatherization are numerous. For one, it saves homeowners money on their energy bills.”

He added that weatherization reduces one’s carbon footprint and creates jobs as it requires skilled professionals to carry out the work.

“Finally, it’s not just about saving money or reducing our impact on the environment, it’s also a matter of social justice,” Terry said.

Local funding through DeKalb County and the American Rescue Plan Act has gone toward weatherizing homes in Clarkston and South DeKalb. The Empower Clarkston program, which is run through the Tekton Training Center, has been expanded with help from the county’s APRA funding.

“The program is aimed at training refugees from the immigrant community as well, and communities that have been impacted by COVID-19,” said Malek Alarmash, program manager at Tekton Training Center. “The training program focuses on trade skills and includes specialized trainings such as the Empower Clarkston program.”

The 14-week program is centered around green construction and efficiency training, which includes identifying and addressing energy needs and plumbing issues. In 2021, the Empower Clarkston program trained 15 people and assisted 15 homeowners.

“The program’s impact was demonstrated through data which showed a significant reduction in power bills and amounting in approximately $700 in energy savings per year. This represents a significant cost savings of more than 33%,” Alarmash said.

Tekton will be working on 20 homes in DeKalb and has been recruiting trainees and homeowners to participate in the Empower Clarkston program.

The Rev. William Flippin Jr., added that weatherization is a critical tool in fighting climate change, and it improves the wellbeing of communities by reducing greenhouse pollutants.

“Legislation that expands and makes these energy efficiency efforts accessible to all is the inclusive and expansive approach that we need to meet the climate change challenge,” Flippin said.

In addition to highlighting the tangible benefits realized in these laws, speakers also urged federal leaders to further expand on them to reduce carbon pollution.

Raid at proposed public safety facility site exposes barriers, booby traps and trespassers

By WSBTV.com News Staff
March 27, 2023 at 5:34 pm EDT

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Just days after county officials issued an order for the public to stay away from the area around the site of the proposed Atlanta public safety training facility, authorities say they’ve found barriers, booby traps, and trespassers on the land.

On Monday, DeKalb County police and surrounding agencies executed a raid to clear the site at Intrenchment Creek Park of trespassers.

The DeKalb County police chief said Monday’s raid uncovered something that was cause for grave concern – fentanyl.

“We actually found something that we’ve never found before, several vials full of fentanyl,” said Chief Mirtha Ramos.

Dekalb County Commissioner Ted Terry, told Channel 2 investigative reporter Ashli Lincoln, the right to peacefully protest at the site of the new public safety training facility was taken away.

“The concern is, we’re pushing the free speech zone, too far away,” Terry said.

County leaders said the park that is home to several walking and biking trails is no longer safe to the public and has been the site of recent violent protests.

Terry said while he doesn’t agree with the violent protest, he thinks County leaders should work to provide a peaceful protesting zone.

“Will there still be the ability to still have peaceful protest,” he said.

A DeKalb County parcel map shows six parcels listed that are impacted by this order. However, Terry said the park’s entrance — which is the old South River Trialhead — is not a listed parcel on the order.

DeKalb County told Channel 2 Action News that since 2021, the former South River Trailhead has not been publicly owned and is not a DeKalb County park.

The county said the park is now owned by Blackhall Real Estate Phase II, LLC.

Because this is private property, DeKalb County said they are not aware of any judicial order that says the privately owned BlackHall Property must remain open to the public.

DeKalb County police said two people were arrested, three persons left voluntarily, and one vehicle was towed following Monday’s raid.