Residents of two north DeKalb County neighborhoods plan to oppose a youth soccer club’s proposal to build new fields on Johnson Ferry Road.
“A lot of the neighbors are up in arms about this,” said David Lauterbach, who has hosted neighborhood discussions about the proposed fields at his home on Wescott Lane.
The Concorde Fire Soccer Club proposes to build a $1.5 million soccer facility on 12 acres at 1611 South Johnson Ferry Road, its president said. The complex would include three fields, a 4,376-square-foot clubhouse and 150 parking spaces.
“There are lots of kids who want to play soccer,” said Concorde Fire President Larry Lord. “We’re just trying to help them out.”
The club now shares fields on Ashford-Dunwoody Road with the Cowart Family/Ashford Dunwoody YMCA, in Alpharetta, Fayetteville and in other locations around metro Atlanta, Lord said.
Lauterbach argues the new fields will mean more traffic on Johnson Ferry Road.
“They’re going to bring hundreds and hundreds of people onto the property. That’s what bothers me,” Lauterbach said. “It seems like a business is moving into a residential area.”
Lauterbach said the property is zoned for residential use. The soccer fields, he said, would bring “a major change to the character of the neighborhood.”
But in its application to DeKalb County for a Special Land Use Permit to build the fields, the club argues it will “enhance this property in a manner which will be beneficial to the neighborhood.”
“As soccer has become an ever increasingly popular sport in the United States, all soccer programs have continued to grow,” the organization said. “Until recently, few elected officials and developers of athletic facilities played soccer, so soccer fields lacked public support for fields or community-based soccer programs. Further, development of green space has only recently become recognized as an important need to preserve the future of our communities.”
The property is adjacent to Nancy Creek. “Except for one house formerly on the property, [it] has never been developed because it is located in the flood plain,” the soccer club said. “Members of the surrounding communities have made multiple suggestions over the years to develop this site only for recreational uses.”
The club said it plans to build one regulation soccer field and two smaller ones. The fields would be used primarily for practices. They would be used until 8:45 p.m. on weekdays and until 6:45 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Lord said the parking lots would be built using material that would allow rain to seep into the ground. He said the clubhouse, which would include bathrooms and places for storage of equipment, would be built on the foundation of a home that once stood on the property.
Lord said the fields were needed to meet the growing interest in soccer.
“It’s a fast-growing sport,” he said. “People are more interested in it now. Even parents actually have an interest in it, where [in the past] they didn’t play soccer and didn’t know much about it.”
But Lauterbach says he and his neighbors don’t feel like the fields belong in the middle of a residential area.
“We’ll fight this all the way,” he said.