ATLANTA – A group of neighbors is suing the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation because they say they have failed to obtain the necessary permits to take down hundreds of trees.
Channel 2’s Craig Lucie exclusively obtained the lawsuit, and that is just one of their complaints.
“I’m furious! I’m sad! It’s not about me. It’s about all the trees being taken down,” said Maxine Suzman.
Suzman moved from New York City to her home across from the Bobby Jones Golf Course 26 years ago.
“I thought I had gone to heaven. Recently, I woke up and saw this. It looks, it’s devastated. Look at it! It looks like an airport scene,” said Suzman.
Suzman is one of several neighbors who filed a 17-page lawsuit against the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation stating the developer illegally removed more than 500 trees and failed “to obtain a building permit from the City for various structures, including but not limited to the planned maintenance facility and cell tower.”
“What we are talking about is compliance to the laws of the city that were developed for us,” said Suzman.
Lucie has reported on several stories about the golf course redevelopment showing the renderings, the land clearing and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s concerns about the banks of Tanyard and Peachtree Creeks.
Channel 2 Action News also received written statements, but Friday Lucie spoke with the Foundation’s attorney, Charles Palmer.
Palmer told Lucie that neighbors have not been left in the dark about their development plans.
“There were a number of meetings for many years to discuss plans for this project. Nobody likes to remove trees. It costs a lot of money to take them out and to plant them. Unfortunately, the rerouting of the golf course, which was required, required us to take a number of trees, approximately 525 trees, but we are planning to replace those on a one for one basis with native trees,” said Palmer.
Palmer also explained why they don’t need to get City of Atlanta permits.
“This is a state-owned property. All the building improvements will be and are owned by state of Georgia. The state of Georgia approves and is not subject to City of Atlanta local regulations,” said Palmer.
Neighbors, who are also attorneys, disagree. Their lawsuit states, “The developer’s failure to apply for and obtain a building permit from the City for various structures, including but not limited to the planned maintenance facility and cell tower, threatens Plaintiff’s rights and interests. The tree removal and other construction activities of Developer have been done and are planned without the Developer having first obtained various City of Atlanta permits that other developers would need to obtain prior to conducting such development activities.”
As for the relocated cell tower near Northside Drive, Palmer said “It’s hard to camouflage a 180′ tower. However, based on our landscape architect’s advice, we can more effectively screen the tower with tree plantings along Northside Drive. We would like to have input from neighbors about where and what to plant. We will hopefully have the opportunity for those discussions.”
“We can work together. It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Suzman.
Palmer says they want to keep working and meeting with neighbors about their concerns.
“We continue to want to have a conversation with the neighborhood. That’s been something that’s gone on for years. We’ve had recent meetings and discussions with them, and we want to continue to have those discussions with them. We want their input. We recognize that we are in the middle of a neighborhood, and we want it to be a neighborhood facility,” said Palmer.
Article Originally Posted On: WSBTV
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