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Published on September 17th, 2012 |

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NPUs citywide send City Council resolution urging denial of Lindbergh big box plan for south Buckhead

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    The Atlanta Planning Advisory Board (APAB), the parent organization for Neighborhood Planning Units throughout Atlanta, on Saturday unanimously passed a resolution urging all Atlanta City Council members to vote no Monday and deny the requested land use and zoning changes for the proposed “big box” retail center for the Lindbergh area of south Buckhead.

    The votes on the fate of the retail center—officially listed on the City Council agenda for Monday as CDP-11-06 and Z-11-19—have met with massive opposition from throughout the city, even though it is a Buckhead issue, and just might affect fund-raising and the election of council members who support the issues when they come up for re-election, according to sources.

    This aerial map of the area where the retail center would be developed shows
     its relationship to other major developments in the area. It was created by
    Gordon Certain of the North Buckhead Civic Association and includes the
    former site plan for the Sembler/Fuqua development. The new site plan has
    not really been made public. It was just recently revised.

    The resolution, signed by APAB President Cathy Richards and forward to City Council to be entered into record at Monday’s council meeting, states: “APAB, on behalf of NPUs citywide, urges all Atlanta City Council members from all districts and all at-large members to vote NO and to DENY approval of CDP-11-06 and Z-11-19 (SPI-15 Lindbergh Retail Center).”

    The City Council meeting Monday is at 1 p.m. at City Hall, 55 Trinity Avenue in downtown Atlanta.

    Buckhead Dist. 8 Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean at a meeting of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods Thursday night urged Buckhead residents to come to the council meeting and have their positions heard. The problem is that the public is not allowed to speak about zoning issues during the public comment period of the council meeting. That has to be done at the Zoning Committee meetings.

    Dist. 8 City Councilwoman
    Yolanda Adrean 

    Talking with BuckheadView on Friday, Adrean said she sent an email correcting what she had said and said she thought there were four council members who would vote against the issues.

    BuckheadView counts at least five, all of which represent and live in Buckhead who should be expected to support their Buckhead constituents.

    .

    Those would be Adrean, Dist. 7 Councilman Howard Shook, Dist. 6 Councilman Alex Wan, who chairs the Zoning Committee and is vice chair of the Community Development/Human Relations Committee, Dist. 9 Councilwoman Felicia Moore and Aaron Watson, who is a councilman at large, but lives in Buckhead and relies heavily on Buckhead voters.

    Other members of City Council who might be expected to consider voting in line with the wishes of Buckhead residents would be Councilman at large H. Lamar Willis, who undoubtedly gets much of his campaign funding from Buckhead, and Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell, who will not likely have a vote but earns most of his income through his law office located in Buckhead.

    Dist. 9 Councilwoman
    Felicia Moore
    Dist. 7 City Councilman
    Howard Shook

    Dist. 11 Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, Dist. 12 Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd and Dist. 10 Councilman C.T. Martin, all are facing similar problems with developers wanting changes in the Comprehensive Development Plan and zoning changes in southwest Atlanta in order to plaster the area with discount retailers, such as Dollar Stores.

    Their NPUs also supported the APAB resolution Saturday related to the Buckhead development, largely because there is a concern that if the adopted CDP and Special Public Interest area zonings are ignored by City Council, then they lose control over planning and development in any area of the city.

    Richard Rauh, the APAB representative from NPU-B told Buckhead View “The vote was solidly unanimous with NPU delegates endorsing it from all over town. There was no dissent, none.” He said there was a quorum of 13 of the 25 NPUs at the meeting and voting, which he called “a good representation on any Saturday” at the APAB meetings.

    “It was a solid citywide consensus,” he added   

    The site plan above was the last one seen by NPU-B and rejected because
    of the 150,000 square foot Walmart store (top left in brown color) and
    7 acres of surface parking lot in front of it. This plan apparently has been
    changed, but NPU=B and the Buckhead neighborhoods have not seen the
    new site plan and it is apparently not available online for viewing. The
    members of City Council apparently do have copies of the new plan.  

    Councilwoman Adrean said she believes she and her colleagues will vote on rezoning all 21 acres from residential to commercial on Monday, even though the developers, the Sembler Co. and Fuqua Development, have presented a plan for a mixed-use development including less than 50 percent of residential and over 50 percent retail, with a 150,000 big box store, presumably a Walmart.

    “The plan, I think, leaves a lot to be desired,” Adrean said. But she said a new site plan for the development does show less surface parking area, which was one of the major points of contention with NPU-B with the earlier plan.

    The site plan by Lawrenceville-based Haines, Gipson and Associates shows space for multifamily residences but Adrean said no residential developer has signed onto the project. Substantial changes were made to the site plan after denial by the Neighborhood Planning Unit B, but that body has not seen the new site plan, Adrean said.

    “I was not sent a revised site plan,” BuckheadView was told by NPU-B chair Sally Silver.  “I have seen the proposed park design worked out with the Parks Department,” which apparently now includes a playground.

    NPU-B chair Sally Silver

    Silver said, “Revised plans do not have to come back through the NPU, only amendments to the re-zoning application.  This particular case has no application as it originated with the Zoning Committee of Council via Aaron Watson’s introduction in 2011,” she added.

    Adrean pointed out that the stakes are high related to this Council decision. “If they lose this vote,” she said about developers Sembler and Fuqua, as well as Walmart, “there will be a lawsuit.”

    It will be interesting to see how the members of City Council react to the resolution sent to them by APAB, since 13 of the NPUs that represent their council districts all approved the resolution on Saturday with no dissenting votes.

    The introduction to the APAB resolution reads: A Resolution by the Atlanta Planning Advisory Board advising the Atlanta City Council to uphold provisions of SPI-15 in its current form and to REJECT proposed legislation CDP-11-06 and Z-11-19 (SPI-15 Lindbergh Retail Center) that has been forwarded to Council by both Council’s CD/HR and Zoning Committees without recommendation.

    The resolution points out that APAB is the citizen body consisting of delegates representing the 25 NPUs of the city “established by the Atlanta City Charter to be advisory on citywide issues of planning and other public policy governmental matters to those charged with legislative and administrative functions in city government.”

    City Council President Ceasar
    Mitchell. Will he influence
    the vote of City Council?

    It also points out that each NPU is an official, geographically-determined “citizen participation entity designated by Atlanta city government for the purpose of obtaining citizen input concerning administrative and legislative actions that are proposed and undertaken by the City that are judged to impact citizens of that NPU in particular and the City generally”

    The resolution states that APAB, along with various NPUs and others,” has for more than a decade worked in concert with and support of the Department of Planning, Development and Neighborhood Conservation of the city of Atlanta as it designed with care, academic best practice and community consent the forward-looking Special Public Interest Districts including that of (SPI-15) Lindbergh Transit Station Area.”

    Dist. 6 Councilman
    Alex Wan, is chair of
    Council’s Zoning
    Committee and vice
    chair of Community
    Development/Human
    Relations committee,
    both heard the issue.

    The resolution states the intent of the original legislation that established SPI-15 in the year 2001 was, among other provisions: to “…Enhance and protect the Lindbergh Transit Station area as a model for retrofitting an existing automobile-oriented commercial strip into a transit and pedestrian oriented mixed-use and multi-family urban neighborhood; …provide for a pedestrian-oriented environment on streets and sidewalks; …maximize access to transit; …encourage use of transit infrastructure; …reduce parking requirements by encouraging shared parking and alternative modes of transportation; ..improve access and reduce congestion; …facilitate safe and convenient pedestrian and bicycle circulation and minimize conflict between pedestrians and vehicles; and …reduce vehicular congestion.”

    APAB pointed out that denial of CDP-11-06 and Z-11-19 will preserve the intent of SPI-15 and sustain its promise for an improved future for the Lindbergh Transit Station Area with regard to reduced traffic congestion by continuing its future development as a transit-oriented residential

    environment primarily and by continuing to reduce its effective function as a commercial destination that acts as a magnet for wasteful and destructive automobile usage.”
    APAB said approval of CDP-11-06 and Z-11-19 ”is likely to undermine and perhaps destroy forever any potential for the Lindbergh Transit Station Area to fulfill its visionary potential.”
    It further points out that NPUs citywide, in addition to NPU-F and NPU-B,  “recognize the potential for detrimental consequences of dismantlement of SPIs in their own areas and the effective abandonment of years of citizen involvement that were devoted to crafting of those SPIs.” 



    (NPU-B also sent a letter to City Council members outlining is objections to both the land use and zoning changes for the proposed development. For that story, click here,)

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