Tumlin vetoes eminent domain offer; Council tables action on 2 properties, was set to OK 3rd
by Rachel Gray
March 14, 2014 04:00 AM | 3783 views | 5 5 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Peggy Price sits on her front porch in the chair where she reads her morning paper everyday on Allgood Road. <br> Staff/Jeff Stanton
Peggy Price sits on her front porch in the chair where she reads her morning paper everyday on Allgood Road.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
slideshow
03-13-14 -- The city of Marietta has offered $59,000 to buy this home owned by Peggy Price, who has lived here since 1980. Price owns the house free and clear and says the city's offer is not enough as she cannot buy another another house in this market for that amount. Staff/Jeff Stanton
03-13-14 -- The city of Marietta has offered $59,000 to buy this home owned by Peggy Price, who has lived here since 1980. Price owns the house free and clear and says the city's offer is not enough as she cannot buy another another house in this market for that amount. Staff/Jeff Stanton
slideshow
MARIETTA — An attempt by the city to build a recreation center near downtown Marietta pitted residents against their representatives on the City Council on Wednesday night, resulting in a veto by Mayor Steve Tumlin.

Three coveted properties sit in the way of expansion plans for the Elizabeth Porter Recreation Center, a center selected for improvements by residents as part of the 2005 parks bond issuance. The project has a $3.75 million budget.

City Council decided not to authorize starting the process of using eminent domain to condemn two residential properties in the quiet Allgood Road neighborhood.

The council was willing to make an offer for another property on North Marietta Parkway, west of Fairground Street, but Tumlin vetoed that effort in order to tackle acquiring all three pieces of land next month.

One home on Allgood Road is owned by Peggy Price, 64, who was placed there by the Marietta Housing Authority with her mother when she was 13 years old.

For decades, Price has paid her mortgage while raising her three children and grandchildren in the home.

Price’s cousin, James Gober, who addressed the council Wednesday night, said the city is only offering Price about $60,000 for her home.

Councilman Anthony Coleman advocated for Price during the public hearing about using eminent domain.

“You can’t buy a chicken coop in the city of Marietta for what we are offering her,” Coleman said.

According to the Cobb Tax Assessor’s office, the home is appraised for $23,015.

Gober said he thought the starting price would be at least $80,000, but he cannot find another home for his cousin in the city even for that amount.

Instead, he thinks it will take at least $150,000 to relocate Price, who does not want to go from being a homeowner to a renter.

Council divided on issue

Councilman Johnny Walker called for a vote to table any movement on the residential properties for a month, with a requirement that the owners submit independent appraisals to the city attorney before the next council meeting April 9.

The council voted 6-1, with the lone dissenting vote cast by Councilman Stuart Fleming, who said the City Council is not in the “deal-making business” to help purchase homes and cars for people.

He addressed residents Wednesday, including Cobb NAACP President Deane Bonner and her daughter, Marietta school board member Jeriene Grimes.

Fleming said it is the council’s responsibility to direct staff to get the property transferred into city ownership to complete the plans for Elizabeth Porter for the betterment of the entire area.

Gober said Fleming misunderstands the role of the city government. Up until the last four years, Gober said, there was always cooperation between the city and its residents.

“We’ve been having a lot of issues based on housing,” Gober said.

For instance, he points to the decreasing percentage of black residents in Ward 5, represented by Coleman, as affordable housing has been demolished by the city and developers have been approved to erect townhomes.

More than two years ago, the Marietta Housing Authority demolished the 125-unit Lyman Homes public housing project less than half a mile from the recreation center and sold the property to be developed as Montgomery Park, with single-family detached homes selling for $250,000 to $280,000.

Mayor vetoes land purchase deal

Councilman Grif Chalfant said the two residential properties eyed for eminent domain are “critical corner pieces” to the Elizabeth Porter Recreation Center plan.

City Attorney Doug Haynie said the process of transferring the properties could take years and involve court battles.

The council had planned to approve an offer being made on a third piece of property Wednesday night.

The vacant land on 409 N. Marietta Parkway is owned by the Marietta Redevelopment Corp., a tax-exempt organization formed by the city as its redevelopment arm.

The council voted 4-3 to offer $91,000 to acquire the land, with Fleming, Chalfant and Councilman Andy Morris opposed. The Cobb Tax Assessor’s office appraises the property at $13,710.

Tumlin vetoed the action, saying all the properties discussed Wednesday night need to be acquired, or else there is no point in buying the MRC-owned portion.

“I want three birds in the hand,” Tumlin said.

The council did not attempt to override the veto.

Tumlin said the city is the best candidate to buy the third piece, backed by the Bank of North Georgia with a loan to the MRC.

If all three properties discussed Wednesday night were bought by the city, it would make six consecutive pieces, including three other parcels already purchased.

One was a liquor store at 321 Allgood Road, called Hunter’s Package store, on the corner of North Marietta Parkway.

Opening in 1948 as a hospital for the city’s black community, the Elizabeth Porter Recreation Center was named after the first director of the community space.

The old building sits on 2.7 acres, and the city purchased 1.7 acres of adjacent properties to construct the larger recreation center. The newest six pieces would add 2.25 acres.

The expanding property would place the new facility on a giant corner lot with an entrance off North Marietta Parkway, instead of being tucked on a side street as it is now.



Comments
(5)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Unwanted Rec Center
|
March 14, 2014
Where eminent domain is needed is along potholed, constricted Whitlock, not for some nuisance rec center that serves mostly to puff up a pol's resume...but just try beating the Whitlock rich into submission!

Her house isn't worth much, but paying her $60K and then kicking her out would certainly screw her, since buying the same house elsewhere in Scarietta would cost much more.

Typical pols: Spending money and time where neither is needed, and ignoring rat-infested eyesores like the Wynhaven Apts. on Powder Springs. Why wasn't that ghost town bulldozed YEARS AGO?!
Great Unwashed
|
March 14, 2014
Once again councilman Fleming has shown his compassion and fairness in his new role. Remember he is the one that wants to start the process of condemnation of the huge inventory (20) of so called "abandoned" homes in the city. Now he wants to give this woman only enough money to move from an owner occupied home to an apartment.

I am almost never in favor of eminent domain being used and this case is a perfect example. This woman minds her own business, lives in & helps maintains a home for 52 yrs, raises her family in the home and now the city wants to kick her out to build a rec center for the "betterment of the entire area" according to Councilman Fleming. Is Councilman Fleming sure the other residents want a rec center near them? With all the abandoned area in Marietta, can't Councilman Fleming and the council members find a place to build a pool and gym that does not take away someone's home? Not everyone can afford to buy a lot on Cherokee St. and let it sit while they live in another home like councilman Fleming.
anonymous
|
March 14, 2014
RE: Fleming said it is the council’s responsibility to direct staff to get the property transferred into city ownership to complete the plans for Elizabeth Porter for the betterment of the entire area.---

RE: ..the lone dissenting vote cast by Councilman Stuart Fleming, who said the City Council is not in the “deal-making business” to help purchase homes and cars for people.--

Stewart Fleming has a too-strong-to-ignore resemblance to a power hungry busybody who believes the BIG FIST of government is the best way to get your neighbors in line. But, Stalin and Hitler were that way too or, so I am told.

With guys like Fleming in positions of power...be afraid.

anonymous
|
March 14, 2014
If this lady was a member of the crony chamber of Commerce, Tumlin and the council would have led the way for a bond issue to buy her property from her ( of course, her pockets would need to be deep enough to garner that action on the part of the Mayor).

This is a stark contrast to the sickening sweet heart deal the council gave to the land owners/developers on Franklin Ave ( land prices double over night, NO PROBLEM says the Mayor, we'll pay it).

It pays to be a crony!

Mike In Smyrna
|
March 14, 2014
Stuart Fleming understands the role of government.

Stuart Fleming For President

*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides