Residents raise concerns over proposed Target plan

By M. Robert Berg

Concerned property owners converged on DeKalb City Hall Monday night to voice their disapproval of a plan to build a Target store on a wetland area in DeKalb.

At the city council meeting, an ordinance was passed that begins a project to build a Target department store and a grocery store complex on Sycamore Road, between Barber Greene Road and Oakland Drive.

Currently this property is undeveloped, consisting of a forest and wetland area. Residents who live behind the proposed site came to the council meeting to address environmental impact, flooding and quality of life issues associated with the proposed stores.

One point raised was the removal of trees the construction would involve.

The Unified Development Ordinance has a tree-saving provision in it that attempts to save trees from unnecessary destruction.

Flooding problems for residents in the area also were discussed. “We had water problems before Oxford Inn went up,” said Brenda Young, who lives adjacent to the site. “We were told a retention pond would be built, and our flooding problems would be fixed. They have not been fixed.”

Some of the flooding problems come from the Northland Plaza, adjacent to the wetlands. The plaza was built before provisions of adequate water drainage were passed by the council, according to City Manager Bill Nicklas.

Thus, rainwater drains from the plaza to the wetlands and surrounding areas. The proposed construction does attempt to solve this problem by making the wetlands on the north end of the property deeper.

Preserving these wetlands in its natural state was the concern of some property owners present. One property owner said the project will destroy the wetlands rather than incorporate them. He said the detention pond proposed as a revision to the original ordinance will be made deeper to take on runoff, so the soil from the wetlands will have to be stripped.

Nicklas said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who has to give approval before any wetlands excavation can begin, will not allow wetlands to be destroyed under federal regulation.

Quality of life also was discussed, including noise and sight issues. In a revised plan voted on by the council, the developer is to provide for a fence and trees to stand between the houses and the store.

“A wooden fence combined with fir trees will be planted to create a sight and sound barrier,” Nicklas said.

DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow said this development will solve some problems, and is probably better than any alternatives. “(With this plan) we bring in economic development, hopefully mitigate water problems, preserve as much of the tree ordinance as we can and do a hybrid wetlands,” he said. “A number of good things will come out of this, but we can see not everyone will be satisfied. I do think it can be a win-win situation.”