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 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.

DeKalb commissioner pushes for more local spending on transit

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry says the county should consider investing more local transit dollars to take advantage of available federal funds (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

Originally published in WABE

Last year’s federal infrastructure law will mean hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade public transportation in metro Atlanta.

But the plan also expands opportunities for projects that improve transit equity.

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry told WABE’s “All Things Considered” this week he’d like to see a transit referendum placed on the ballot this fall for the county’s voters.

“Even if it’s a quarter-penny,” Terry says, local investment would make DeKalb eligible for more federal dollars.

“The longer we wait, the higher possibility that we miss out on really what we think of as a once-in-a-generation level of funding that can I think really catalyze a lot of economic development and job opportunities,” said Terry. “And with that we can address affordable housing and environmental issues at the same time.”

He says some loan programs available as part of the infrastructure plan require as low as a 20% match from the cities or counties seeking them.

“Right now we don’t have a local match available to meet those demands,” said Terry. “So what I’m really hoping we’ll be doing over the next several months is to consider: what is our local transit funding formula?”

He says increasing public transit in South DeKalb, adding more bus routes, as well as free rides for seniors and disabled individuals, can help improve transit equity in the county.

“We have a lot of metrics that the transit folks are looking for,” said Terry. “They’re looking for underserved populations, they’re looking for equity issues. We know that in South DeKalb, they’ve been paying for MARTA for 40-plus years now, but haven’t received the type of investments that would be commiserate with that sales tax money.”

Terry says long-term projects that could improve mobility in DeKalb include heavy rail, light rail, bus rapid transit and transit that uses managed lanes on 285 and I-20.

“It would become a reality sooner if we get the local funding in place,” he said.

South River Watershed Alliance, DeKalb Commissioner seek order to stop ‘Cop City’ construction

Originally published in Decaturish

DeKalb County, GA — A DeKalb County Commissioner has joined with the South River Watershed Alliance and a member of an advisory committee overseeing the construction of a police training center to seek a restraining order to stop construction on the site.

The Atlanta Police Foundation is constructing an 85-acre police/fire training facility located in DeKalb County’s South River Forest, called “Cop City” by activists. The location has historically been the Old Atlanta Prison Farm site.

The project will cost approximately $90 million. The area will feature a burn tower; space for high-speed chases, a helicopter pad, a shooting range, and a mock village.  One-third of the bill will come directly from taxpayers, and the other two-thirds will come through the Atlanta Police Foundation, a collection of private non-profits who financially support APD in various ways. The land will be leased to the Atlanta Police Foundation for $10 per year. 

The debate over constructing the facility has become international news. Police officers shot and killed Manuel “Tortuguita” Esteban Paez Teran, 26, on Jan. 18 near the site, and a state Trooper was wounded during the incident, which has resulted in several protests.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a member of the advisory committee helping to oversee the project, Amy Taylor, is appealing the county’s issuance of a land disturbance permit that would allow construction to move forward.

The South River Watershed Alliance and DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry joined Taylor in filing a complaint in Fulton County Superior Court on Feb. 13 seeking to halt construction activities related to the training center.

Despite Taylor’s appeal, “Atlanta Police Foundation, Inc. refused to stop clearing the site,” the complaint says.

“Atlanta Police Foundation, Inc. claimed the site ‘is exempt from county zoning requirements altogether’ because it is ‘being developed for a public facility,’” the complaint says.

DeKalb County issued a land disturbance permit on Feb. 2. Taylor filed an appeal with the county’s zoning board of appeals on Feb. 6. To see the appeal to the county’s zoning board of appeals, click here.

“Amy Taylor appealed the planning director’s issuance of the land development permit because sediment discharges caused by clearing, grading, and excavating will violate state law,” the complaint says.

The complaint asks a judge to grant a restraining order to stop land disturbance on the site and to prevent any future disturbances while Taylor’s appeal is pending.

To read the complaint, click here.



DEKALB COUNTY, GA (Monday, February 13, 2023)  -–  On Monday, February 13, at Georgetown University, DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry will join an impressive group of fellow County elected officials from across the country to launch Counties for a Guaranteed Income (CGI). This roundtable and subsequent kick-off for CGI is an expansion of the success of the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI), which began in June 2020. 

Currently, MGI has grown to represent more than 29 million and has provided more than $210 million in relief to Americans. CGI aims to expand that, driven by a commitment to advancing a federal guaranteed income – direct, recurring cash payments to the poor and middle class.

“It is a bold idea and will spark conversation about the future of work, the challenges faced by the working poor, and the sad realities of the welfare system in America,” Commissioner Terry said. “I am honored to not only represent DeKalb but also to be the only participant from the entire state of Georgia. It is imperative that we as leaders come together from across state lines to discuss real solutions for all.” 

Like MGI, Counties for Guaranteed Income will consolidate key learning from the pilots taking place in CGI member Counties to address knowledge gaps and allow the organization to layer data with anecdotal evidence through rigorous experimentation and narrative methods.

Participants of the roundtable included MGI Founder Michael Tubbs and CGI Founders: 

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry

Durham Commissioner Nida Allam

President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Susan Ellenberg 

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Lindsey Horvath

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando

Ramsey Commissioner Rena Moran 

President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Toni Preckwinkle 

Founding members include:

Durham Commissioner Nida Allam 

President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Susan Ellenberg

Harris Commissioner Rodney Ellis

Hennepin Board Chair Irene Fernando

Caddo Commissioner Stormy Gage-Watts

Hennepin Commissioner Marion Greene               

Los Angeles Supervisor Lindsey Horvath

Durham Board Chair Brenda Howerton

Santa Fe Commissioner Hank Hughes 

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando

Multnomah Commissioner Susheela Jayapal

Ramsey Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo

Pierce Council Chair Ryan Mello

Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Holly Mitchell

Ramsey Commissioner Rena Moran

Dane County Executive Joseph Parisi

President of the Cook Board of Commissioners Toni Preckwinkle

DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry

King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay

Commissioner Ted Terry on Cop City

Atlanta and DeKalb County officials announced plans to move forward with building a $90 million Atlanta Public Safety Training Center at the site of a former Georgia state prison farm. Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry, who represents constituents where the facility is expected to be built, is calling for more transparency. He talks with Rose about the path forward.


DEKALB COUNTY, GA (December 28th, 2022)  -– Decatur Presbyterian Church-Threshold Ministries will extend financial assistance to those in need after receiving a $100,000 American Rescue Plan grant from DeKalb County Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry. Threshold is the church’s outreach ministry to the homeless and those suffering other effects of poverty. With this funding, the organization will be able to provide aid to approved applicants in need of housing, transportation and other supportive services, primarily those impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis. The focus of this specific grant will be on those whose life situation has been impacted by physical and/or mental health disability.

“Decatur Presbyterian Church has been an integral part of Decatur for almost 200 years,” Commissioner Ted Terry said. “The pandemic hit our communities hard, and many are still struggling to recover from its broad impact. With this grant money, we can help so many in DeKalb get back on their feet, with Threshold as a beacon of hope for those in need.”

A third of U.S. adults say they or someone in their household has been laid off or lost a job since the outbreak began in February 2020. This left and continues to leave many families and individuals struggling to make ends meet. Threshold Ministry’s purpose is to connect those in need with helpful resources and critical funds. This ARP appropriation will strengthen those efforts.

“One of the keys going forward to address poverty and homelessness will be for governments, non-profits, churches, and corporations to collaborate more readily with one another, seeking solutions that make significant, long-term impacts for individuals and for the broader community,” Reverend Todd Speed of Decatur Presbyterian Church said.

To receive assistance, those interested should submit an application that details their circumstances and demonstrates efforts to tap into community resources. Those approved can receive housing and transportation assistance, as well as financial support to assist with hardships or employment issues stemming from COVID-19. Applications will close on January 31, 2023.

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DEKALB COUNTY, GA (Tuesday, December 20)  -– At 2022’s final Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, December 20, DeKalb County’s Board approved a resolution that unwaveringly declares the county’s support for women and those who can bear children to have safe access to all reproductive healthcare needs, including abortion. The resolution was first introduced by Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry over the summer in response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe V. Wade on June 24. The overturning of this landmark case made Georgia’s Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act enforceable, which bans abortions after about 6 weeks of pregnancy and limits access to other reproductive care services.   

“Fundamental rights have been taken away from hundreds of thousands of our residents,” Commissioner Terry, said. “In DeKalb County, we want to protect the right to choose and access vital reproductive healthcare services. This is not a decision that a politician should make. It’s a personal decision between the one carrying the child, family and their healthcare provider.”

In light of the overturn of Roe V. Wade and the now-enforceable LIFE Act, there is growing concern that those seeking or providing abortion services could be subject to investigation, arrest and prosecution. Commissioner Terry believes this to be a waste of law enforcement resources, especially as constituents and officers themselves want to see more emphasis put on stopping more violent offenses. 

“We know in DeKalb that violent crime is a top priority. We don’t need to be spending police resources investigating our own citizens, our own communities, our healthcare providers,” Commissioner Terry said. “This is not a priority for our law enforcement or to our community.”

In addition to supporting safe access to abortions, the resolution would also encourage the administration to add verbiage to the county employee benefits system that includes access to vital reproductive healthcare resources.

“I’m proud of the support this has received from my fellow Commissioners, and that DeKalb is willing to take a stand and protect our women and child-bearing individuals,” Terry said.

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