(VIDEO) – Medlock residents confront businessmen over planned Scott Boulevard restaurant

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 1, 2015
Medlock residents had many questions for the people planning to put a restaurant in a vacant car dealership along Scott Boulevard. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Medlock Park residents had many questions for the people planning to put a restaurant in a vacant car dealership along Scott Boulevard. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

A crowd of Medlock Park residents showed up to the parking lot of a vacant car dealership on Scott Boulevard to confront the people proposing to build a restaurant as part of a three-story development.

The developer and restaurateur say there may be misunderstandings about their intent. But during the tense meeting held on a Monday afternoon, Aug. 31, the conversation at times struggled to rise above the level of yelling. The developers couldn’t answer questions to the satisfaction of residents, who were concerned about noise, late-night drinking and security, among other things.

Things settled a bit when the attorney for the proposed restaurant Paul Oeland, began mediating between the two groups.

“There’s a cultural issue at play,” Oeland explained. The owner of the proposed restaurant is Mark Desai, who owns businesses across the street near Patel Plaza. He would be moving some businesses across the street. The front of the business would be three stories. The bottom would be a restaurant, and the upper floor would be a banquet hall, underneath a salon area. The salon area would have to be constructed on top of the current second story of the building.

Oeland said in many south Asian celebrations “there’s a one stop shop to the idea.” The salon above would serve wedding parties going to the banquet, but the owners said it would not be available to the general public. The business could seat 300 people, including 130 in the restaurant and 170 in the banquet hall area. Oeland said the restaurant would be an “upscale Persian restaurant with an Indian twist.”

It would serve alcohol, but it wasn’t clear if service would stop at a certain time or go on until the early morning hours.

Desai said the business would be called “Karma.”

“That’s my dream,” he said. He said the restaurant may take another full year to open. Decaturish asked him if there’s anything he could do to allay the concerns of the residents living around the property.

“I can listen to them,” Desai added. “If they have serious problems we can work with them.”

Another person who represented the restaurant, who identified himself to a reporter only as David, said there would be an armed guard on the property as well.

Medlock residents questioned whether the owners had the appropriate zoning to open the business. They said the property is currently zoned C1, which would not allow a for a late-night business. That would only be available under C2. They also said the property doesn’t comply with current zoning codes.

Theresa Same, who serves as the zoning chair for the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association, politely grilled the Karma representatives on the neighborhood’s various concerns surrounding the use of the property. She said the impact of 300 people being able to use the property at once is “too high.” She said the neighborhood is upset that the business would have trucks loading and unloading in the bays at the back of the building.

“We’re not going to support you to continue to enlarge this property without coming up to the current code,” Same said. ” … I’m very interested in helping the developer do great development in our area, but I have never been to a pre-submital meeting in this area that has this many people coming out in opposition.”

Same said the neighborhood is unsure where the project is in the zoning process.

“We don’t know if they’ve filed their application for the special land use permit, or not,” Same said. “There are a lot of things that are in question now.”

Here are the renderings displayed at the meeting on Monday.

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About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Angela PM

    I told you this was a cultural issue in my previous comment. These people are building what is, for them, a typical venue for events. The outrage of the neighborhood is premature, IMO. I’m sure if the neighbors would put together their issues in a letter, the developer would take them into account and do what he can to fix or offset them. If there are codes to be changed, I’m sure they’ll petition to change them. And I’m also sure that Dekalb county will approve changing the code to C2. If they’ll allow a walmart despite the residents, I’m sure this will glide right through the permit process as well. It’s the sad state of affairs in Dekalb. The residents should attack the county, not the developers, because the county will ultimately prevail.

    • RAJ

      Sorry about this, but work was done without proper DeKalb County permits and the inspector(a high level staffer) just looked the other way. The lady who had the Dumpster next to her driveway was not happy. If I live in their culture(I have been elsewhere in the world)I follow their rules, the same applies in return!

  • Jim Smith

    This is NOT a cultural issue. This property was out of conformance with the current zoning code when purchased and has been made only further non-conforming with the modifications that the new owners have made.
    -The building has zero feet buffer from single family homes instead of the minimum 30 foot buffer required for this type of use and yet the back half of the building is intended to be a warehouse/distribution center with heavy trucks coming and going, just a few feet from folks’ front yards where their kids play.
    -We also do not believe that this is a permitted use for the current zoning on the property.
    -The owners of the building, after purchasing it, received a permit to make interior changes. They did those but then went ahead and added an extra loading dock, built a wall around the portion of the back lot that they intended to use as a dumpster location and built a wrought iron fence around the entire property with a very wide sliding gate directly behind the newly expanded loading dock, even though there is no curb cut there.
    -They have dumped concrete along the fence line which is well within the state 75 foot boundary from the creek and generally ignored the impact of anything they were doing on the neighboring homes.
    -They added very nice and bright security lights around the building but instead of putting them on poles pointing into the property and onto the building they were just put on the side of the building and point into folks’ backyards. Those backyards are now floodlit all night long.

    Medlock is a very diverse neighborhood and I can assure you that the only cultural issue here is that perhaps these gentlemen do not understand the culture here in DeKalb where neighborhoods have to ferociously defend their boundaries against over and poor development because the DeKalb Planning Department is definitely not going to do so. We have worked with Sembler/Walmart and with Fuqua on very big projects, meeting for months on end to come up with plans that the neighborhoods and these developers could live with, so neither is the issue one of NIMBY-ism.

    Lord knows that the folks over here would love to see all of these empty car dealerships redeveloped. Just not in such a way that will make things worse for the neighborhood rather than improve them.

    • guest

      And Medlock’s situation is exactly why there is a move toward cities in DeKalb County… bottom line.

    • RAJ

      Speaking of Culture…..I’m feeling MY diversity this morning(if people only knew)and my foreign policy is conciliatory so i can say that I appreciate Jim’s Civic involvement and I think we need to work together to solve this ongoing problem of responsible development. I have spent all day Tuesday’s every Tuesday for the last six years with DeKalb County officials and have had my share of interaction with the Planning Department. I don’t recall that they have ever had the leadership from the CEO or the Department Head to act in the best interests of the community on a consistent basis. This won’t change! Development issues are one of the driving forces behind the city hood movement because local control of responsible development bring with it stable increases in property values for home owners and better quality of life for non property owners. In the case at hand(I was at the meeting), the owner has a right to develop his property, however in the absence of the County enforcing it’s own rules Medlock really has no choice except to file for an injunction if a positive response from the owner is not forthcoming. Waiting until after the fact is of little value. Let’s all find a way to make things better!

  • An American Patriot

    And Mr. Mays e-mails are being sought…..folks, this stuff has to stop

  • Eva Shaw

    Looks like a future casino site in the making.

  • Cities Are Bad

    Keeping Dekalb Strong is what we need to do. Businesses like Dekalb county because it is a great place to do business and people want to come here to celebrate. The county needs money too and with a great business world we have here how can it fail. There have been a couple of bad people put in jail but that is all. Charges against many when it is only a few. DeKalb county will remain strong and cities can do nothing about this business opening up in a vacant property. Remember to keep DeKalb Strong in your prayers and in mind for contributions. Money is needed to fight the cities to allow these businesses to open and thrive. With your help the cities can be defeated and people wont lose their jobs.

  • An American Patriot

    Folks, wake up. Whatever is being put on that piece of property is NOT, I repeat NOT going to be good for that area. That is at a major intersection going into and out of Decatur. Is this the kind of business we want visitors coming to our city to see? I’ll guarantee you, if it’s allowed to go forward, it will bring chaos that area. Traffic galore all during the day and night, Police Vehicles everywhere, EMT Units coming and going. This is NOT the image we should be portraying. Look what happened to Memorial Drive a short distance away. It’ll happen here.

    And, Mr. May’s e-mails are STILL being sought and corruption in DeKalb County is at an all time high. The DCCS is in shambles and is a disgrace to our county and the beat goes on. And CITIES ARE BAD commented that more cities are bad. No, I say this kind of development is bad and we need to wake up and stop it.

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