Environmental Justice? Fulton County Commission Approves Flawed Amendment Opposed by The Council for Quality Growth

Last August, the Fulton County Commission passed a resolution that sought to address what they believed were “environmentally adverse” problems that affected distressed communities in the South Fulton area. It directed staff to establish, among other things, policies that would be focused on environmental justice.  Well, the staff did just that and in order to do so had to look to a report published in 2005 by the Environmental Protection Authority of Australia.

Was there any other jurisdiction in the United States that had a similar policy?  No, not one.  The Fulton County staff relied on a single report, and not even the most recent one updated in 2007, to set forth the environmental justice amendment that establishes acceptable separation distance requirements between certain land uses and citizens in “overburdened communities.”

Robert Broome, former Government Affairs Director with the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors had originally led the charge to curtail and oppose such a disastrous policy, with other members such as The Council supporting the opposition.  With his departure, the Council stood as the only opposition in yesterday’s public hearing, as the amendment was passed on a 5-1 vote, with only Commissioner Liz Hausmann speaking against and wisely voting against a policy that puts Fulton County’s commercial and industrial economic future at risk.

The Council, Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors, BOMA and other invested organizations commissioned a report by the Bleakley Advisory Group, Inc. on the economic impact  analysis of the amendment that concluded:

  • Companies which are potential “adverse uses” and located in the VRC impact areas represent a significant portion of the Tax Digest of unincorporated Fulton
  • Existing companies which are “adverse uses” account for $194 million in assessed value or 5% of the unincorporated Fulton’s Tax Digest.
  • In terms of industrial property, the “adverse use” companies account for 35% of all of the industrial assessed value in unincorporated Fulton.
  • The potential loss of a significant portion of these existing companies as a result of passage of the Amendment would have a significant negative impact on the Tax Digest.
To view the report in its entirety, click HERE
A bad piece of policy was passed today by the Commission, with unintended consequences for the county and little regard to the intent of the original resolution.