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County gives Mountain View deal green light

By Justin Reedy

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved an agreement that will allow the county to redevelop most of Mountain View, an abandoned area in northern Clayton County.

The land option agreement with the city of Atlanta and Clayton County will allow the county to market and sell city-owned property in the Mountain View area to potential developers. That area of the county has been left vacant since the last expansion at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport.

Clayton County officials negotiated the agreement as part of the debate with Atlanta and Hartsfield officials over the closing of Sullivan Road, a county-owned road that stood in the way of a fifth runway being built at the airport. The county didn't agree to close the road until this spring, when the two parties reached an agreement in principle on the Mountain View land option deal. The draft approved by the commission on Tuesday was the final version of the option agreement.

Clayton County hopes to use the option deal to market the land for redevelopment into industrial, commercial and office property, bringing business into the county and generating property tax revenue. The county's Development and Redevelopment Authority will begin accepting proposals from businesses interested in the area very soon, according to Emory Brock, the agency's executive director.

"We've got to get the thing out on the street for proposals, and then go from there," Brock said.

The county will likely recruit a mix of development that centers on commercial and office space, as well as some distribution and warehousing property. A hotel or conference center is another possibility for that area, Brock said.

Though that area of the county could suffer from the loss of a proposed Macon-to-Atlanta commuter rail line that was slated to pass through Clayton County but is now on hold due to funding problems, Brock thinks Mountain View can be properly redeveloped anyway. Also important to the project is the Aviation Boulevard extension, which would connect that road to a realigned version of Conley Road and create an interchange for Interstate 285 in that area.

Including design, right-of-way acquisition and construction, that project could take three to four years to complete, according to Wayne Patterson, director of transportation and development for Clayton County. But when that project is done it will open up Mountain View to the interstate and hopefully speed up its revitalization, he said.

"We see it attracting people off of I-285 to get to the airport and the redeveloped Mountain View area," Patterson said.

"I think the next step is to get that road done and get the interchange in place and we're ready to go," added Commissioner Carl Rhodenizer, an outspoken supporter of the Mountain View redevelopment project. The Aviation Boulevard project is "just as important as the 17th Street Bridge project (in midtown Atlanta) was in the development of Atlantic Station," he said.

In other business, the commission also approved the following items on Tuesday:

* Changes to the county's zoning ordinances that would require prospective nightclubs to get a conditional use permit from the county before opening, even if the property is correctly zoned for such a club. The changes now go to the county Zoning Advisory Group for a recommendation and then come back to the commission for a second reading before final approval.

The idea for requiring nightclubs to have a conditional use permit came up when officials and some local residents expressed concern that developers didn't need permission from the county to open the Rusty Rooster, a country music dance club and restaurant in Ellenwood. Critics say the club is too close to a church, a school and a subdivision.

"I think (requiring a conditional use permit for nightclubs) is the right thing to do," said Commissioner Charley Griswell, who pushed for the zoning change. "Certainly, I hope this won't happen again."

"If we had something like this in place before, they would have had to come back to the commission for final approval before opening," added Rhodenizer.

Calls to the Rusty Rooster were not returned Tuesday.

* The 2003 capital improvement projects for Tara Field, the county airport in Hampton. The projects, which the county hopes will be funded by $400,000 in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, will help boost security at the general aviation facility.

The county hopes to install security fencing around the entire airport property, as well as new lights on the runway and taxiway, according to Ed Toney, civil engineer at Tara Field. The grant could also fund security lighting for the airport's lower ramp area where planes are parked, which isn't a well-lit area now. The new fencing and the security lighting will help improve security for the entire airport facility, Toney said.

"We didn't have the area to do fencing before," he said. "But since we've done the land acquisitions over the last few months we can secure our fence line now."