About 100 Brookhaven residents packed the DeKalb County District 1 Community Council meeting to make it clear that they do not want soccer fields near their neighborhoods.
The group came to the June 14 meeting to oppose a plan by the Concorde Fire Soccer Club to build a $1.5 million soccer complex on 12 acres at South Johnson Ferry Road. Some residents were visibly angered by the proposal.
The meeting was an early step in the zoning process, with approval from the county’s planning board and board of commissioners needed before the project can move on.
Several residents said they believe the soccer fields would add too much traffic to an already congested Johnson Ferry Road.
“When all this traffic backs up, you have three hospitals there. Who’s going to have the blood on their arms when an ambulance gets hung up in traffic there?” said Ronnie Mayer.
Neighbors also complained that they were not informed about the proposal and worried that they will not have time to stop it before it goes before the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners in late July.
Bob Lundsten, chief of staff for Commissioner Elaine Boyer, tried to calm the tension. He said Boyer often will ask the board to defer zoning items if there are still issues that need to be resolved.
“You’ve got to get out of this mentality that this is being ramrodded through,” Lundsten said. “We’ll make sure all the questions are addressed. Just because it’s on the calendar doesn’t mean there’s going to be a decision.”
Kathy Zickert, the attorney representing the soccer club, told residents they are willing to defer the zoning request until neighbors feel more comfortable with the plan.
“I’m aware of your concerns,” she said. “We will willingly consent to move it on to September and if we can’t get everybody answered and feeling like they’re a part of the process by September, then we’ll continue past that.”
Zickert said the Concorde Fire club hopes to work with neighbors to address their problems and have hired a traffic engineer to do a study of the surrounding area. The soccer club is willing to do things like install automatic shutoffs for the lights and hire security guards, she said.
But homeowners from surrounding areas said there are too many problems with the proposal to build three soccer fields, a 4,376-square-foot clubhouse and 150 parking spaces on the property.
Many others worried that the added noise and light would decrease property values and scare away potential homebuyers.
“It’s going to drop certainly the number of people that would be interested,” said Stan Baumgartner. “That’s a lot of what this is about.”
The neighbors also asked for answers about how a soccer complex would affect nearby Nancy Creek and the surrounding wildlife.
After hearing from both sides, the Community Council voted for a full cycle deferral, meaning the Concorde Fire Soccer Club will have to come back before the council before the proposal can move to the next step in the zoning process, the county Planning Commission.