DeKalb residents effort to protect virgin forest

Residents of 13 DeKalb County neighborhoods are trying to keep some forest land out of a developer's clutches.

Richard Marion, the president of the Briarlake Community Forest Alliance, balks at the idea of razing 21 lush acres of undisturbed forest for an Arrowhead Real Estate Partners plan to build a new subdivision with 43 upscale homes.  The property is at the intersection of Briarlake Road and Amberwood Drive. 

"This is one of the last tracts of 21 acres of virgin forest," he says.  "These trees, in some cases, are over 200 years old." 

Marion says the BCFA believes that the plans violate some important ordinances.  They want to make sure that the plans comply with all federal, local, and state guidelines--and there are concerns about storm water runoff getting worse, as well as traffic congestion. 

"To remove the sedimentation and to clear-cut this area would have a devastating effect on not only the land, but downstream and flooding issues," he says. 

Debbie Wilson, a member of the BCFA, says they are very concerned about development upstream, and how it will affect property values downstream.

"The intersection of Briarlake and Briarcliff Road has been closed because it gets flooded," says Wilson.  "It's a hazard to the students walking home from school, it's a danger to the cars, and the infrastructure just cannot handle it."

Neighbors are hopeful that at least some of the land can be preserved for greenspace.  They plan to show up in force at Wednesday evening's meeting of the DeKalb County Planning Commission in the Maloof Auditorium at 6:30 p.m., and lobby to preserve at least some of the forested area.  Even if a developer planted saplings, neighbors tell WSB, none of the residents would live to see the trees grow to the majestic heights of the current ones.  

"You make a mistake here, it's gone forever.  No doubt about it," says Wilson.

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