With a popular golf course, easy access to interstates 285, 75 and 675 and to Hartsfield Jackson Airport, the Bouldercrest, Moreland, Cedar Grove area is seen by many who live there as having a good deal of potential but many obstacles to overcome.
The community, located in the southwest corner of DeKalb County, has grown in population faster than the county as a whole, but with little planning. Since 2007, community residents and business owners have held a series of meetings with county commissioners Kathie Gannon and Lee May and consultants in an effort to change that. Stakeholders have discussed their vision for the community, identified what they see as its strengths and opportunities and developed a plan to promote economic development and redevelopment. The result is a proposed overlay district to create local zoning ordinances within the community that would establish “orderly and consistent guidelines for the design, construction and maintenance of public and private improvements.”
At a meeting held April 5 at a church on Bouldercrest Road, community residents reviewed the latest, and possibly final, version of the plan, now outlined in detail—down to what types of signs businesses and subdivisions may construct to which trees, shrubs and groundcover may be used—in a 38-page document. The next step, Gannon explained, is to have lawyers go over the proposal for the overlay, which creates within the district five tiers—three mixed-use commercial, one industrial and one single-family residential. The proposal must then be approved by the full board of commissioners.
Among the concerns that surfaced during community meetings are crime, an uncoordinated mix of residential, commercial and industrial areas along with too many of some types of businesses such as gas stations and small discount stores, and not enough of others such as major chain grocery stores, restaurants and drug stores.
The proposed overlay district is defined roughly by Bouldercrest Road on the east side and on the west side past Moreland Avenue to the county line. Interstate 285 largely defines the north side and to the south it goes past Cedar Grove Road to the county line. At present, the area is a hodge-podge of single-family homes, subdivisions, trucking companies and free standing businesses, peppered with churches and undeveloped wooded areas. There is no uniformity of landscaping, architectural design, outdoor lighting and furnishing, and business signage.
In September 2011, residents of a Bouldercrest Road subdivision learned that a small-box discount retailer would be constructing a store at the entranceway to the subdivision. David Amakor, president of the Cedar Grove Neighborhood Association, reported that 75 to 100 community members attended a meeting at nearby Church of Christ at Bouldercrest. “Every one of them was against it,” he said. “They are putting in a business that’s out of synch with our vision for the community.” Because the property had been zoned commercial for many years, there was nothing area residents could do. The proposed overlay would empower the community to assure that new development “be of a consistently high design character.”
The area also lacks a “sense of place,” according to the consultants’ report. It doesn’t have an identity or “brand” similar to that of well-defined communities such as Tucker, Brookhaven, East Lake or Oakhurst. One resident at the April 5 meeting suggested calling the area Sugar Creek, drawing on the name of the golf course. Consultants said they expect the process to be completed by the end of the year.