To the editor:

On July 26, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners deferred a decision regarding a special land use permit being requested by Concorde Fire Soccer Club to build three new soccer fields on Johnson Ferry Road in the Brookhaven community.

Concorde Fire Soccer Club, a non-profit soccer club for boys and girls from ages 4 to 18, is interested in purchasing 12 acres on Johnson Ferry Road, which would accommodate the new fields.

Unfortunately, this has drawn the ire of some residents in surrounding neighborhoods. We would like the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions and simply state the facts.

Concord Fire has always relied on the support of the community. Last year the membership was 1,310 boys and girls. Of that number, only 727 will use the new fields. We are run by a volunteer board with an executive director and employ eight coaches. One of our teams is ranked in the top 30 in Soccer America among boys’ soccer clubs nationwide.

We are proposing to create three new fields; a one-story, 2,500 square foot clubhouse; and parking for 167 cars (only 147 spaces are required). All parking and drives shall be made from pervious (porous) materials (no asphalt). The clubhouse will have two restrooms; one meeting room for the volunteer board and storage for equipment only (no fertilizer or pesticides).

Of the concerns raised by neighbors, it seems that traffic, flooding and deforestation are recurring themes. An independent traffic engineer conducted an analysis of traffic impact. On a daily basis, no more than 226 new vehicles will be introduced to the area between 4 to 9 p.m. Slightly more than 100 of them will be introduced prior to 5 p.m., 113 of them will enter or leave the site between 6 and 6:30 p.m. and 116 will be leaving the site at 8 p.m. All of this traffic is now using fields in the same geographic area. The number of “new trips” does not warrant road improvements on Johnson Ferry.

There are no wetlands on the property that will be disturbed by the development. An independent study was conducted by an engineer formerly employed by the Army Corps of Engineers. All hydrology reports will be subject to review by the Corps and Georgia EPD.

Further, it is customary to locate recreational facilities on flood plain. There are a number of DeKalb County parks which contain flood plain, including nearby Murphey Candler and the Blackburn Park soccer fields. In the county’s adapted Parks and Recreation Plan, 41 parks have expansion plans which involve cutting trees in flood plain and stream buffers.

DeKalb code defines a “Neighborhood Recreation Club,” which is allowed in a residential community, as: “a not-for-profit association of people organized for the purpose of providing recreation facilities and programs for a neighborhood or neighborhoods and characterized by certain membership qualifications, payment of fees and dues, and a charter or bylaws.” Concorde Fire satisfies this definition. Finally, there are multiple residential areas in metro Atlanta located immediately adjacent to soccer fields. Some of these are near the Concorde Fire fields: the West Nancy Creek community, for example, and the neighborhoods surrounding the fields on Peachtree-Dunwoody Road and Windsor Parkway. None of the homes in these areas have been devalued because of their proximity to these fields and the neighborhoods tout the proximity as neighborhood amenities. In other words, usable green space is good for our community.

We ask that you take the time to understand the facts which surround the proposal.

Jody Young, Board member, Concorde Fire Soccer Club