Published on October 29th, 2014 |4
NPU-B unit rejects 2 CDP land use change requests off Piedmont
The second application denial was for a change of land-use for a single family home located at 605 Darlington Road, at the corner of Piedmont Road, to allow the property to be leased for commercial use for a hair design studio or similar uses.
Prior to the beginning of the official D&T committee meeting, BuckheadView walked in on a pre-meeting negotiation between members of the committee and representatives of Fuqua Development and Kroger, which would be the anchor grocery store of the development, along with some neighborhood supporters of the project.
Fuqua’s plans to develop this tract and have the land use changed for commercial use from residential have been bumping around NPU-B meetings for more than two years, first as a mixed-use development including a big box Walmart store.
Now in place of the Walmart store, the new plan has an 82,000-square-foot Kroger grocery store as the anchor retail for the site.
In addition to Kroger as a partner, Fuqua also has Greystar Development that plans to build a 173-unit age-restricted for-rent residential development on 9 acres being presented for approval by NPU-B for changes in land use and zoning.
At Tuesday night’s committee meeting, Fuqua’s attorney Steve Rothman was joined by Kroger’s Paul Xhajanka, although Xhanjanka did not participate in the official committee discussion of the project.
The Development & Transportation Committee was considering Fuqua’s request to amend the land use element of the 2011 Comprehensive Development Plan to re-designate the properties at 658 and 690 Lindbergh Drive from high density residential land use to high density commercial to provide for the Kroger store.
Members of the NPU-B Zoning Committee also were attending the meeting because Fuqua is seeking to rezone the same property from Special Public Interest-15 district SA-8 designation to SA-3 for the mixed-use development.
Committee chairman Jason Kendall made it clear that the committee has met several times—apparently in private—with the development team and wants to get more cohesive greenspace into the plan, more of a grid pattern on the roads and the plan does not address retail on all streets, all of which are Special Public Interest-15 district guidelines.
Kendall pointed out that the tract is presently zoned residential sub area 8 and the developer wants to go to sub area 3, “which is a big change. We would like for the SPI site plan to more closely follow the SPI requirements.” He said the adjacent area is primarily residential.
Attorney Rothman told the committee the development is going to have “good connectivity” and be very walkable. He said there has been some suggestions of breaking up the parking lot by adding trellises.
Rothman said the application is scheduled for a CDP hearing on Nov. 18 (prior to the next NPU-B committee meeting) and asked the committee to vote on the CDP application, but to defer the application for zoning changes by the NPU’s Zoning Committee until later.
“We would like you to support the CDP change, but don’t expect that,” Rothman told the D&T committee. He pointed out that the CDP application will be stalled in City Council for some time anyway before the final vote is taken on it.
One member of the audience who spoke out in support of the Fuqua plans was Chris Baker, who lives at the Cosmopolitan condominiums in the neighborhood and owns both the Cosmopolitan and Vista at Lindbergh apartments.
He said his 670 apartment residents want a grocery store. He said his residents had a meeting and everyone at the meeting supported the development.
“You have to be able to adjust,” Baker told the D&T Committee members. “If we stall this, who knows how long it will take to get a supermarket.”
Addressing the committee’s issue with the development not having retail on all streets, Baker responded, “All around Lindbergh the retail spaces are empty. No developer is going to come in and build retail. You have to be able to adjust,” he added.
Kendall told Baker, “We don’t control who would decide what retail would be there,” a supermarket or not.
The Development & Transportation Committee then voted 8-1 to reject the CDP application for change. During the later Zoning Committee meeting, chairman Bill Murray told Rothman his committee would not be hearing the zoning change application Tuesday night because the CDP application was rejected.
The owners of the second property brought before the D&T Committee have over the years also apparently tried on many occasions to change the CDP land-use designation for the property at 605 Darlington Road to allow the property to be used for commercial use. But, apparently, the Peachtree Park neighborhood has drawn a line in the sand.
The present owner has been trying to lease the property for residential use for the past five years, according to her attorney, but has been unsuccessful. She wants to lease the property low-level commercial use, which would create limited traffic impact, the attorney said.
The property is directly adjacent to the Mercedes Benz auto dealership on Piedmont Road. But the property’s address is on Darlington, not Piedmont, and is at the entrance to Piedmont Park. It was made clear that the Georgia Department of Transportation would never allow a curb cut on Piedmont Road for the property.
The argument was made there presently is no viable single family use for the site.
Committee chair Kendall said Piedmont Park (his neighborhood) is opposed unanimously to the application. “It is a residential street and not a Piedmont parcel,” he said.
Kendall said the neighborhood has a long history of preserving R-4 (residential) lots and added that the long-term development plans for Piedmont Road calls for a right-in right-out treatment of that intersection “which would make it even more a residential lot. It is an egress to the neighborhood,”
Zoning Committee chair Murray suggested it could work. “If the ugly house could produce some income it might be an improvement,” he said.
But fellow real estate professional Jim Cosgrove, who was a former resident of Peachtree Park, pointed out there has always been extreme commercial use backing up to this property and believes it is viable as a single family lot.
“The concern is that if this is rezoned there can be no denial to one across the street,” Cosgrove said. “If this happens, this is the end of this block in Peachtree Park. Changing the CDP at the entrance to the neighborhood is a big deal,” he added.
A motion to deny the CDP application passed the D&T Committee with a vote of 7-1 with one abstention.