Developers are free to begin work in Decaturâs Suburban Plaza after a community group lost an appeal to block a Walmart supercenter.
The DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals voted to deny the appeal of Good Growth DeKalb, a group of residents formed more than a year ago to promote the sustainable development of their community.
The groupâs appeal challenged the building permit issued by DeKalb County in December, asserting that the building permit does not comply with county ordinances governing stormwater control, tree protection and truck traffic associated with development.
âWe donât believe permits were granted in accordance with the law,â said Mary Shellman, resident of the Medlock community and a member of Good Growth DeKalb. âWe donât believe trucks should be on Medlock Road. It cannot handle that traffic. We just donât need another magnet for more vehicles.â
Shellman said the proposed development is the âantithesis of what Good Growth DeKalb supports.â
âWe donât believe a big autocentric, giant development at Surburban Plaza is healthy, sustainable growth,â Shellman said. âWeâd like to see something that encourages people to walk, to ride their bikes, to support small businesses there.â
The appellate decision means developers can proceed with the proposed 150,000-square-foot store, which would have groceries, a deli, pharmacy, and an optical center.
Suburban Plazaâs owner, Selig Enterprises, has predicted that the improved shopping center, which will increase by 30,000 square feet, would add 600 to 800 jobs to the community and spur redevelopment in the corridor.
Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz said, âWe are delighted to be partners with Selig Enterprises in this retail redevelopment, which we believe will be very positive for the community.
â Walmart is looking forward to adding 300 new jobs and millions of dollars in new tax revenue to the county by being part of this project,â Wertz said. âWe are also excited about offering the community another option for fresh, affordable food and other merchandise.â
The ruling was good news for Suburban Plazaâs developer, Selig Enterprises Inc.
âI think they made the correct decision it was made on the facts,â said Scott Selig, vice president of Selig Enterprises Inc.
Selig said his company will continue with its plans to redevelop the shopping center.
âOur plans are in,â Selig said. âWe will start gearing up to start demolition.â
Construction is planned to begin in late spring with the shopping centerâs renovation to be completed in early 2015.
Despite the yearlong protests from residents, Selig said his company is here to stay.
âIf you check our reputation out around this entire region, itâs impeccable,â Selig said. âWe are not merchant-developers. In other words, we donât build and then sell. We build and we buy and we donât sell.
âWeâre a family developer,â Selig said. âIâm fourth generation. Weâve been here for 90-something years. We are a good neighbor.â
Although he said he believes the development will be a âgreat amenity,â Selig said he understands the misgivings of some residents the supercenter coming to Suburban Plaza.
âPeople hear this and think, âWhatâs coming?ââ Selig said. âItâs scary. Anything new that changes whatâs there is scary.
âLooking back, when itâs all done and fully running, I think everyoneâs going to be extremely thrilled with whatâs there,â Selig said. âWhen itâs done, you will not recognize what was there before. Itâs going to bring it back and go beyond what the glory days were.â