Religious leaders in DeKalb County are concerned about the transparency of county leaders after a push to ban the development of churches along a busy stretch of Memorial Drive.
Pastor George Tatro of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church was surprised to learn that the county’s proposal to turn a portion of Memorial Drive into an overlay district to boost economic growth also banned the development of some places of worship in the area.
“I heard about it today. I’m pretty shocked by the whole thing,” Tatro said. “It seems to me silly that the government would put a ban like that in place.”
Tatro isn’t the only religious leader who was shocked to hear this news. Pastor Randy Palm of Rock of Ages Lutheran Church was also caught off guard.
“I never had anyone come to me and ask what my thoughts were about that and how that might impact this congregation,” Palm said.
CBS46 first reported the ban in August. Since then, county leaders have removed it after they say they received push back from residents at a recent Board of Commissioners meeting.
Now, some think the government isn't being transparent and has their own agenda to support nightclubs and other businesses with a large tax base.
“I don’t think too much community input was done during the past eight months, perhaps,” resident Emily Grossman said.
County leaders said they initially got the idea for the proposed development ban on churches from community input, but some neighbors in the area beg to differ and say the government never asked for their input.
“They want to help revitalize this strip, but now it’s being shoved down our throats, possibly,” Grossman said.
“Are they really listening to what the people of this community, who live in this community and what we’re indicating is going to be helpful for us as a community moving forward, or has someone else already made that decision?” Palm asked. “That’s my concern.”
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