Peoplestown residents return to court after Judge Schwall directed the City to bring former city engineer working on the proposed park/pond project to testify as to whether the houses that have been taken by the City were necessary for the plan. Emails authored by this engineer noting “no technical data” supporting the City’s proposed project motivated Judge Schwall at an August 5, 2018 hearing to schedule another hearing to further consider the City’s motives for taking property in Peoplestown.
Resident Tanya Washington, the subject of the hearing, and her neighbors on the block have been the subject of focus for the last five years. The City has maintained that it needs every home on the block to address flooding in the neighborhood and eventually build a park, pond, waterfall and large gazebo.
However, at a previous hearing the City’s star witness, Department of Watershed engineer Todd Hill was presented with a 2013 email by an engineer from his office that communicated that the flooding could be addressed without the block. In response to a direct question from Judge Schwall about the veracity of the document, Todd Hill testified, “I don’t know.” Residents expect the hearing on Oct. 29 to reveal that the property in question was not necessary for the proposed project — a finding that will be too late for the 22 homes that have been demolished and the families forced to move as a result.
“The outcome in this case will create a precedent that will either protect residents against these types of land grabs by the City using eminent domain or it will give the green light to city officials, authorizing them to steal peoples’ homes under fraudulent pretenses,” stated the Housing Justice League.
“Five and a half years of my life has been consumed by this fight with my neighbors to defend our property against unlawful taking by the City of Atlanta. We will fight this until the bitter end,” said Washington.