Complaint Filed by Organizations Claiming Atlanta Violated GA Department of Community Affairs Rules

On June 10, several local organizations, including South River Watershed Alliance (SRWA) and Friends of Intrenchment Creek Park, filed a complaint with the Atlanta Regional Commission and Georgia Department of Community Affairs regarding the ongoing construction in the Weelaunee Forest, otherwise known as the South River Forest. The complaint highlighted several violations of the Comprehensive Development Plan process by the City of Atlanta in their reports from 2020 to 2022. 

The complaint states that the City of Atlanta violated Rules of Georgia Department of Community Affairs, specifically in failing to disclose necessary documents in accordance with the 2020 Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), the 2021 CDP, Plan A, and the 2022 Phase 2, Plan A. According to the complaint, the City of Atlanta should have provided a Plan A administrative update, a Phase 2 environmental assessment from 2022, and a full update of changes to the 300-acre Prison Farm land parcel as described at length in the 2017 and 2021 Comprehensive Development Plan as the “anchor” of the planned 1,200 South River Forest. This land parcel also includes the proposed construction site of Cop City, a $109 million police militarization facility that would destroy hundreds of acres of the Weelaunee Forest.

Individuals kayak down the South River Forest. Photo Credit: South River Watershed Alliance

“Community involvement is the most essential element of the Comprehensive Development Plan process,” says South River Watershed Alliance’s president, Jacqueline Echols. According to SWRA’s complaint, state regulations require that “each element of the comprehensive plan must be prepared with opportunity for involvement and input from stakeholders and the general public, in order to ensure that the plan reflects the full range of community needs and values.”

The 2021 Comprehensive Development (CDP), Plan A, was released in November 2021 and will be open for public review and comment until July 19, 2024. The 2021 CDP Plan A aims to involve community input in the growth and development of land use, transportation, housing, economic development, nature, historic preservation, and other aspects of city building in Atlanta. However, there has not been documentation of community opposition to the decision by the City of Atlanta to destroy the last remaining 300-acre parcel of public greenspace in the entire city.

The importance of and commitment to South River Park is touted time and time again in the 2021 CDP, Plan A as “our last chance for a massive urban park in the city.” The CDP Plan A reiterates that local government investments in communities should primarily take place through parks and greenspaces. The construction of Cop City is a direct contradiction to the aims of this plan.

“The idea or claim that destroying the single largest public greenspace investment remaining in Atlanta would result in zero public outcry from communities, not even from those that will be directly affected every day, 365 days a year, is not only unbelievable, it is insulting,” states Echols in an official press statement from the SRWA.

The SRWA previously filed a lawsuit in August 2023 against the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Foundation for illegally polluting streams and water sources with sediment in violation of the proposed police militarization facility’s Clean Water Act permit and the law’s water quality standards.

Readers can find the full complaint here.


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