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DeKalb County releases 11-month public safety training center permitting timeline

The project for an Atlanta Police and fire department training facility has been met with a yearlong protest movement known as "Stop Cop City."

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Officials from the City of Atlanta and DeKalb County on Tuesday committed to the advancement of the project to build a new, $90 million training facility for the city's police and fire services.

The future Atlanta Public Safety Training Center is slated to be built on 85 acres in the South River Forest. It has been met with a yearlong protest movement known as "Stop Cop City" that opposes the project on environmental and social grounds.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond offered assurances at a news conference, saying the plan comes both with a 30-acre commitment on the 85-acre site to greenspace, parklands and trails and preservation of the forested areas on the other roughly 300 acres the City of Atlanta owns at the site.

RELATED: Construction permit to be issued that will allow police training facility at center of protests to move forward

Protest movements, however, throughout the last year have contended any building on the site would irrevocably compromise what is one of the largest urban forests in the Southeast.

DeKalb County released a timeline of its review and permitting process, which offers a window into the environmental hurdles the project needed to clear. Here is that timeline:

'Cop City' timeline for permitting and review

  • March 2, 2022: DeKalb County's Department of Planning and Sustainability (known as "Planning" for short) met with the firm Eberly & Associates ahead of the firm's submission for a Land Disturbance Permit, which covered "the scope of the project, potential environmental protections and approvals required by agencies outside DeKalb County."
  • April 15, 2022: The Land Disturbance Permit package was submitted to Planning, including "fees, drawings, site plans, grading and drainage plans and stormwater management/hydrology report."
  • April 15, 2022: The same day, Eberly & Associates also submitted an Erosion Control Plan and Tree Preservation and Replacement Plan for review. The county notes that Planning "requested corrections/revisions be made to Erosion Control Plan." It's unclear what those corrections and revisions were - 11Alive has requested copies of these documents.
  • May 6, 2022: Planning completed its review of the Tree Preservation and Replacement Plan, evidently without issue. Part of the agreement between Atlanta and DeKalb calls for 100 trees to be planted for every one that gets impacted by construction on the 85-acre site.
  • August 7, 2022: Following Georgia state requirements, an application was submitted to Disturb Over 50 Acres - any such application must be submitted with any project that will disturb 50 or more acres at one time. DeKalb's timeline notes Georgia's Environmental Protection Division at this time required four Best Management Practices (BMPs) to be implemented as part of the Land Disturbance Permit application.
  • August 12, 2022: Georgia EPD approved the application to Disturb Over 50 Acres.
  • August 27, 2022: A Stream Buffer Encroachment Variance Request was submitted. DeKalb notes that if any portion of the project is located next to State waters within a 25-foot buffer zone by law and an additional 50-foot buffer zone under County regulations (for 75 feet total), Planning will review plans for a stream buffer encroachment. A "variance request" to encroach into the buffer zone was made by Eberly & Associates and submitted to planning. Planning subsequently requested "(1) a biological assessment of critical habitat and endangered and threatened species and (2) a flood study be submitted as part of the County stream buffer variance review process."
  • October 5, 2022: The biological assessment for critical habitat and endangered/threatened species (No. 1 in the request above) was submitted by Contour Environmental, LLC to Planning.
  • October 10, 2022: Planning completed its review of the biological assessment for critical habitat and endangered/threatened species and "determined there was no critical habitat, endangered or threatened species found in the area of the proposed" training facility.
  • October 17, 2022: A flood study (No. 2 in the Aug. 27 request) prepared by Long Engineering was submitted to Planning.
  • October 26, 2022: Planning completed its review of the flood study and determined there was "no detrimental impact or increased risk of flooding based on the proposed" training facility.
  • November 2, 2022: Planning completed its review of the Stream Buffer Encroachment Variance Request and found that, while there was a proposed bridge as part of the project within the 25-foot buffer zone mandated by state law, "it is legally considered a roadway drainage structure therefore a variance from the State is not required." The County granted a variance to allow encroachment within its own 50-foot buffer.
  • January 26, 2023: The Erosion Control Plan was approved with "multiple corrections and revisions" that were requested by the County and "made by the Applicant between April 2022 and January 2023."
  • January 26, 2023: Planning approved "all remaining outstanding items" for the full Land Disturbance Permit.
  • January 31, 2023: The Land Disturbance Permit for the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center was issued by DeKalb County.

See the full document


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