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PATH’s Current Mercer Trail proposal(s)
PATH has presented their proposal in 2 public meetings to-date: 9/27 and 11/2. The 9/27 meeting showed much more detail than that presented at the 11/2 meeting.
We think that many of the “facts” and statements in these PATH presentations are either misleading or downright incorrect. See Objections for our views.
Documents Obtained Via FoIA / ORA Requests
We have put in two rounds of FoIA requests for information at the county, state and federal levels. Below are the relevant documents we’ve received to date.
FoIA Round 1 - Fall, 2023:
1. Funding, county-level:
Dekalb allocated $42,249,000 from SPLOST funds in 2022 for these PATH projects. See Dekalb SPLOST Funding for PATH
2. Funding, federal-level:
Federal grants account for about another $9,000,000 allocation to PATH projects for 2023. See Funding-Federal-2023.pdf
3. Mercer 2015 HGOR Study of the Property:
In 2015, Mercer commissioned a study of the area including the Mercer-owned section of the HMC floodplain, the area surrounding the North Fork, and the eastern-side Cecil B. Day trail area. The focus was on responsible stewardship and best practices for the land. The HGOR documents are remarkable, and frankly a pleasure to read. They emphasize preservation, restoration, and education. The documents do talk about opening up some the area, but by on-ground natural footpaths intended for low-impact exploration and educational purposes, placed in the suitable larger, drier areas. The primary focus is on conservation and restoration of the floodplain for current and future generations, and proper stewardship of the area.
These HGOR documents are very different from PATH/Dekalb’s plans which focus solely on laying a concrete thoroughfare through the habitat in order to provide biking connectivity.
We are not (yet) providing links to these documents because despite obtaining them via an FoIA request, we aren’t sure we should since it was originally a Mercer funded study. Nonetheless, everyone should know of their existence and their intent.
FoIA Round 2 - January, 2024:
These FoIA requests were to retrieve documents used for the first section of the NF PCG, which was built between 2018-2019. We will use these documents to better understand the permitting/regulatory/construction process, and thus be better able to plan for any further Henderson Mill Creek activity.
There are a lot of documents, so we stored them up on GoogleDocs.
Dekalb returned several BoC meeting documents showing that:
Dekalb allocated about $150,000 from SPLOST funds for the NF PCG comprehensive plans. $76,600 was used for the 2021 North Fork Peachtree Creek Greenway (NF PCG) Comprehensive Plan document (see below).
Dekalb returned all of the PATH-Mercer-Dekalb communications regarding the Mercer Trail Study. There isn’t much new/news here, although there is a little insight into some of the conversations that were made. The pdf is very large due to long (repeated) email threads: MTS email communications.
Brookhaven estimated $2800 to retrieve documents related to the current planning cycle for Section2 of the NF PCG, but brought the estimate down to a more reasonable $250 to retrieve documents restricted to the first section completed in 2019, so we narrowed our request to the Section1 documents. (We can expand later if needed.)
The Brookhaven documents are here.
We are still reading through it all, so we don’t have any comments yet… except that we noted in the “Tim Ward Greenway GSWCC & recap” eml file that:
- USACE approval will be needed
- GA EPD approval for the 25’ buffer will be needed
- For the additional 50’ Brookhaven stream buffer, they will not have to get an official variance. It doesn’t say why. Evidently Dekalb’s buffer isn’t in play since this is within Brookhaven. The great majority of the PCG concrete lies within the Brookhaven 50’ buffer, and not within the GA 25’ buffer.
The “Project Activity Report” stated that Section1 cost about $16 million.
Please send any comments to the email group.
3. GA Department of Nature Resources (DNR), Watershed Division:
We obtained all of the documents related to the GA 25’ riparian buffer waiver granted for the first section of the NF PCG. The documents were very useful to better understand the process used to obtain a GA buffer waiver. We have some follow-up questions to DNR staff in-process.
The documents were delivered to us in paper format, and some of the papers were a bit mixed up/out of order. We’ve subdivided the paperwork according to topic prior to digitizing. The documents are here.
There were also a large number of paper schematics. We digitized and created pdfs for each schematic grouping. They are here.
We sent some follow-up questions to the department regarding the replacement vegetation used, lost tree-cover, how compliance is tracked, the “75’ impervious zone,” piecemealing, and (perhaps most importantly) whether any further waivers have been requested. We received these responses.
Again, we are looking through this ourselves now, so we don’t yet have any comments. Please send any comments to the email group.
4. GA Soil&Water Conservation Commission (GSWCC):
GA SWCC has no records for the PCG. We were told that the GA-EPD would handle encroachments to the GA 25’ buffer (we have these docs) and the US ACOE (Army Corps of Engineers) would handle any Clean Water Act 404 permitting.
We were also told that both Brookhaven and Dekalb County have an MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) with the GA-SWCC. This means that both are allowed to review their own plans.
Email thread is here.
We have not heard back from the over-arching GA FoIA request submission. We don’t think we’ll re-submit since we did hear back from the Watershed Division and we plan to re-ask the GA Soil&Water Conservation Group.
6. US Army Corps of Engineers:
Corblu did file a “Pre-Construction Notificationfor Nationwide Permit (NWP) 42 - Recreational Facilities Application for the Peachtree Greenway Recreational Trail” with a plan to complete it using “NWP 25 - Structural Discharges and NWP 33 - Temporary Construction, Access, and Dewatering for impacts to waters of the US of less than 0.1 acre.” From the documents, it looks liks the “less than 0.1 acre” refers to designated wetlands, and not to the floodplain overall. Subsequently, the ACOE stated that the PCG (for this segment) falls into the “non-reporting (no PCN” category" of the “NWP 25 and 33” permits, and so the application is unneeded.
And so Corblu/PATH withdrew the filing and nothing else was done with the ACOE.
The documents are here.
We are reviewing the documents now, and also looking further into these designations to determine why the ACOE decided they didn’t need to look at the PCG work.
7. US EPA:
EPA responded and stated they have no documents submitted related to the NF PCG.
This request was re-submitted 2/7 and this time it was acknowledged. We are waiting on further information.
The Brookhaven documents do refer to FEMA, so we think we should get something.
PATH’s 2021 NF PCG Comprehensive Plan
Here is the PATH NF PCG Comprehehensive Plan which was released Dec 2021: PATH North Fork PCG Comprehensive Study Final Draft