DeKalb County taxpayers recently paid an attorney nearly $5,000 to provide legal opinions that he now wants to use in a lawsuit against the county.
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Key dates in Druid Hills’ subdivision battle
February 2004: Robert Buckler and a business partner buy three lots on Clifton Road near Emory University. After tearing down a home at the properties, Buckler proposes to subdivide the land into smaller lots for new houses.
2004 to 2010: DeKalb County’s Historic Preservation Board repeatedly denies carving up the Buckler property, including proposals for as few as four and as many as 11 lots, saying a subdivision will erode the character of Druid Hills.
April 2011: DeKalb County’s Planning Commission approves the subdivision after Buckler produces a letter from the state Department of Natural Resources commissioner, whose office includes the Historic Preservation Division, that says property “does not seem to me to rise” to the level of a historic district and does not need approval from the DeKalb historic board. The Druid Hills Civic Association appeals the planning board vote, pointing to a local law requiring Historic Preservation Commission approval.
July 2012: Buckler and his partner sue DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, arguing an interim planning director Ellis appointed without County Commission approval has no authority to withhold a land disturbance permit so that work can begin on the property.
November 2012: The Board of County Commissioners votes 5-2 to overrule the Historic Preservation Commission’s denial for Buckler to install a fence and retention pond on the property. Commissioners Jeff Rader and Kathie Gannon, who represent Druid Hills, dissent.
December 2012: DeKalb County issues Buckler a land disturbance permit, allowing him to begin grading and excavating on the site. Two days later, he drops his lawsuit against the CEO and interim planning director.
January 2013: DeKalb initiates a temporary stop-work order to review its decision to grant Buckler his permits. After the county lifts its order, a DeKalb Superior Court judge issues a temporary restraining order, to stop the work until a court hearing can be held. Rader requests a legal opinion about the county’s actions, which is turned over to an outside attorney.
February 2013: The outside attorney who researched the county’s actions in the case, Frank Jenkins, asks to take over as attorney for the Druid Hills Civic Association, which is suing the county over the project.