Good Growth DeKalb protest
Good Growth DeKalb protest (file photo)

A DeKalb County judge chose not to rule on a lawsuit filed by a citizens’ group Good Growth DeKalb against the plan to build a Walmart Supercenter at Suburban Plaza near Decatur. Judge Tangela Barrie said this afternoon, Aug. 9, she needed more time to study the zoning code before making a ruling. DeKalb County had filed for a motion to have the organization’s lawsuit dismissed.

In addition to studying the zoning code, Judge Barrie is giving Good Growth DeKalb until Sept. 1 to submit arguments against DeKalb County’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, specifically on the issue of standing. “Standing” refers to whether or not the plaintiffs meet the criteria for parties who have the legal right to sue.

On Tuesday, Barrie ruled against motions filed by Selig Enterprises, the developers of  Suburban Plaza, to present arguments in court and dismiss Good Growth DeKalb’s lawsuit.

Good Growth DeKalb Co-Chair Louise Runyon said in a statement to the media that Good Growth DeKalb was “pleased with the outcome.”

“We feel very confident in our case and in our attorneys, and take heart in the judge’s refusal today to rule in favor of the county’s motion to dismiss the case,” Runyon said. “We feel doubly encouraged on behalf of communities in relationship to developers because of the City of Atlanta Zoning Board’s vote last night to disallow Walmart on the Beltline in Glenwood Park.”

The Atlanta Zoning Review Board voted to recommend legislation presented by Atlanta City Councilmember Carla Smith to rezone property on Glenwood Avenue to prevent Fuqua Development a big box retail development, which is rumored to be a Walmart. You can read Atlanta INtown’s coverage of the Glenwood story at this link.

Good Growth DeKalb filed an internal DeKalb County administrative appeal in January, contending that truck, tree and hydrology ordinances were not followed in granting the building permit for the Walmart Supercenter to  Selig Enterprises. This appeal was directed to the County Technical Board of Appeals as required by county law. Because the Technical Board of Appeals was never set up, the county assigned the appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which did not have authority to hear the matter. In its lawsuit, Good Growth DeKalb contends that this appeal was erroneously heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals in February.

Before today’s court hearing, about 45 Good Growth DeKalb supporters rallied on the steps of the courthouse in Decatur.

On Monday, Aug. 12, INtown received this statement from Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz: “Walmart is looking forward to Judge Barrie’s decision in this matter and remains firmly committed to the Suburban Plaza redevelopment. We are looking forward to providing the community with 300 new jobs and a wide range of groceries and merchandise that everyone can afford.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.