To the editor:

In response to the article under Commentary by Eric Bern in the Nov 1-14 issue of the Sandy Springs Reporter, I would like to object to the bully tactics the City Council is using to get the property they have decided is the only place they would like to put the city center.

It reminds me of the case a few years ago where a City Council decided that a lower-income neighborhood on the prime waterway in their community could be re-developed and be very “good” for the community as a whole.

I feel that what our City Council is doing to these businesses and people is ethically wrong. They may be able to do it legally, but it is wrong to take other peoples’ property just because they have decided it is what they want.

While I am a supporter of the idea of a town center that is walkable and more bike-friendly, I think that if they came to the conclusion that this is the only place that accomplishing this goal is possible, then if they must use eminent domain to force people to move for their project “for the good of the community,” then they should actually have to pay the real price for these businesses and people to move.

Eric Bern makes a very good argument when he talks about having spent years building his business and customer base, and the disruption to his business and income in order for him to have to relocate his business.

It takes time, in his case, to build an outdoor space with the right lighting for his photography business. This is something that I’m sure the real estate appraiser did not take into consideration. It doesn’t just happen.

He should be compensated appropriately so that he can afford to buy something in the same area that his customer base is accustomed to. And especially since there are other sites, maybe not as central as the Target location, but this site is a choice the City Council has made. If they are dead set on only this location, then they should have to pay the cost of the real property value.

The Sherman-Williams Paint Store should have been better accommodated as well. This is “Big Government” bully tactics. I’m thankful I did not have an established business or home the city decided they wanted and had the right to take it from me.

I feel great empathy for these people who have worked hard for many years to build their businesses, only to have Big Government take it from them for much less than their real value.

Brenda Williams