The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved the creation of the East Metro DeKalb Community Improvement District (CID), paving the way for a 39-square-mile area to become a self-taxing district that would make infrastructure improvements. The board reached its decision in a unanimous vote on May 13.
“This is a really big thing for all of us. This will literally transform the area from Stonecrest to Gresham Road and give us the opportunity to apply for grants and other funds that you can only receive if you are a CID,” said Commissioner Larry Johnson, presiding officer of the Board of Commissioners. “Just take a look at Perimeter, Cumberland, Gwinnett, a CID gives an area character. We are going to get more businesses involved and really take off with this. This is just the beginning.”
Johnson, who wrote the original plan for a CID that would run from Wesley Chapel Road to Candler Road in South DeKalb, said it made more sense to create a mega CID to go after funding for projects.
The new CID, which includes commercial property stretching from the Mall at Stonecrest in DeKalb’s far east to Gresham Road in South DeKalb, is the largest in DeKalb County and nearly the largest in the Metro. There are about 1,250 commercial property owners and more than a billion dollars in property value, officials say.
DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May said leveraging additional funding for infrastructure is critical.
“The East Metro DeKalb CID will be the foundation for commercial and industrial property owners to collaboratively make significant improvements to the communities they serve,” said May. “I look forward to the partnerships and initiatives that will enhance the quality of life for our citizens, and help DeKalb move forward.”
Gerald Walker, who served as a consultant for the project, said the next step will be the formation of a board of directors for the new CID. He said a meeting will be held on June 20 for the CID’s commercial landowners to determine who will serve on the seven-member board of directors.
“The Board of Directors will be charged with helping the land owners determine the millage rate and initiatives to improve the area such as hiring off-duty police officers or streetscape projects,” said McDowell. “We are absolutely on track. Tucker and Stone Mountain have expanded and benefitted from CIDs, so should South DeKalb.”
McDowell, who heads the Lilburn CID, said other CIDs in the metro Atlanta area have set their millage rates at 3 to 5 mills.
Doreen Carter, who serves as the chair of the East Metro DeKalb CID formation committee, says the CID was created to serve as an economic development tool to implement major improvements, including infrastructure, public safety and beautification. These enhancements will result in job creation, crime reduction, business revitalization and an increase in property values.
“This is an opportunity to do something in our community that has never been done before. We worked very hard to make this happen for the people of DeKalb County and we are overwhelmingly excited about the CID,” said Carter who is running for Secretary of State. “This is a game changer for DeKalb County, and the State of Georgia, in the form of economic development and job creation. As a life-long resident, I am very excited for the future of DeKalb.”
Van Jakes, who owns a McDonald’s in the CID area and serves as the president of the CID formation committee, said the CID will transform DeKalb.
“The CID offers a strategic plan for South DeKalb to grow and develop. This CID has the potential to change the face of South DeKalb, all while benefiting the entire County,” said Jakes.
“We received support from most land owners in Phase One of this process. The goal was to get 150 to 200 property owners on board by the time we went before the Board of Commissioners. We surpassed that goal with 204 property owners with more than $188 million in property values. The next step is to continue to talk to those in doubt and garner more land owners in Phase Two of the project.”
Greg Alexander, who owns Golden Glide Skating Rink on Wesley Chapel Road in Decatur, said he also believes the CID is a positive step in transforming the area.
“We are making history in DeKalb County. We, as business owners in the community, have to step forward and do what we need to do for our own community,” said Alexander. “I am very excited to help support the community to help develop not just my business—but the entire area.”
Everyone in the CID area, however, is not on board. Mike McClinton, owner of Robert’s Restaurant in Lithonia, said he wishes landowners had been given the opportunity to vote on whether a CID should be created, rather than organizers gaining support from the landowners through consent forms that were signed at several meetings and open houses. In order for the CID to be created, more than He said many who were opposed did not attend the meetings as he did. He said one of his main concerns is how the CID will determine which projects will be done
“You’re talking about 39 square miles to split the funding and try to determine whose project will be first. I don’t think there is another CID that big in the state,” said McClinton. “Why should I pay into a business on Glenwood or on Covington?”
The special called caucus meeting to select the CID Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Friday, June 20, 9 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Lithonia. For more information, call 404-684-7031.