Several “No Trespassing” signs posted around an area of green space near DeKalb-Peachtree Airport are raising questions among the neighbors.
William Murray, an Ashford Park resident, saw the signs being posted by workers, including airport police, and asked what was going on.
“I was told they were being put up because there were neighbors around the edge of the tract of land who were not observing property boundaries,” Murray said. “The signs are basically in a bunch of peoples’ backyards.”
But county officials say the land is airport property and the signs were posted for residents’ safety.
“As this is an area that is not secured and the safety of the public is not assured, we have taken the prudent preventative measure of discouraging residents from entering this zone for safety’s sake,” DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan said in an email.
Interim Airport Director Mario Evans said the land is not considered greenspace, but part of the airport’s “runway protection zone.”
“Some homeowners that back up to the airport’s RPZ, have taken it upon themselves and have encroached onto airport property,” Evans said in an email. “They have done this by ways of installing gardens, sprinkler systems for gardens, a tree house, a tool shed as well as clear cut acreage behind homes. Therefore the airport personnel have placed ‘No Trespassing signs’ in these areas. This is not the correct way to go about acquiring this piece of land. ”
The 2o-plus-acre property is owned by the airport and lies west of Clairmont Road. It’s bordered by Ninth Street, Skyland Drive and Tobey Road.
Murray is a member of Protect the Ashford Park Greenspace, a coalition of neighbors surrounding the land who call the parcel, “one of the last significant, undisturbed old growth forests in the Brookhaven or Chamblee area.”
They want the heavily wooded acreage to remain green space. Last month, Brookhaven city officials designated the land as green space in its Comprehensive Plan 2034.
“The Ashford Park forest green space is airport property,” said District 2 City Councilman John Park, who represents the area. “The airport is well within its rights to put up ‘No Trespassing’ signs and protect themselves from potential litigation.
“The city has no control except for the zoning of this property.”
Murray said there have been rumors that the airport and DeKalb County want to develop the property.
“The current zoning for the property is light industrial, which is no longer relevant for the surrounding community,” he said. “The long history of the project includes several attempts by residential and commercial companies to develop the land.”
Murray said the airport and DeKalb County have worked well with the community in the past to maintain the land’s character.
“The property has been owned by DeKalb since World War II,” Murray said. “Originally, the tract was part of a runway protection zone that has since been removed by the [Federal Aviation Administration] and is now surplus property for the county.
“We did a cleanup day earlier this year, and DeKalb provided mulch and took away the trash we collected,” he said.
Park confirmed that Brookhaven has been approached with proposals to develop the land.
“I will continue to listen to the will of the community and advocate for its preservation as permanent green space to DeKalb County,” he said.