By Michaela Kron
When Burrell Ellis was named DeKalb County CEO in January, he worked with the DeKalb Board of Commissioners to identify three areas of concern for the county: parks, planning and police.
Seven months later, Dist. 1 Commissioner Elaine Boyer discussed the progress being made with the Ashford Alliance Community Association, a nonprofit corporation made up of residents of about 60 different Brookhaven neighborhoods.
At the Aug. 20 meeting, Boyer discussed the newly released master plan for DeKalb parks and recreation, stating that the Board of Commissioners plans to accept the document, which includes recommendations on improvements and changes to parks throughout the county. Boyer said copies of the master plan will be available in DeKalb libraries.
Boyer also raised the issue of the proposed 20-year, $52 million tax abatement for Town Brookhaven the Sembler Co. had sought for its planned 54-acre mixed-use development on Peachtree Road.
Sembler’s request has been temporarily withdrawn, but not until after the DeKalb Development Authority earlier this summer deferred a decision on the tax abatement pending a review and revision of the authority’s policies.The Development Authority uses tax incentives and issues bonds to promote economic development.
At the meeting, Boyer distributed a draft — intended for discussion purposes only — of a new incentive program designed by the Development Authority called “The DeKalb County Economic Development Stimulus Package.”
The draft outlines criteria to determine projects’ eligibility for the stimulus package, including a minimum aggregate investment value of $100 million and the capacity to promote industry and commerce in DeKalb. The draft also addresses the possibility of the reduction or abatement of all property taxes for fewer than 30 years.
Boyer said the economic stimulus policy will be presented to the commissioners for discussion next month, and the board is expected to vote on it in October.
Tom Reilly, who serves on the Ashford Alliance board of directors, said that while he supports the concept of projects like Town Brookhaven, cost emerges as an issue for him.
“I like the idea of a place where people can work and play and live,” Reilly said. “My concern is that our infrastructure has gotten so taxed in DeKalb County.”