Neighborhood News

Published on October 29th, 2014 |

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NPU-B unit rejects 2 CDP land use change requests off Piedmont

The Development & Transportation Committee of Neighborhood Planning Unit-B Tuesday night held true to its history of upholding the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan and denied two applications for land use changes—one for the proposed Lindbergh Fuqua development.

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.

Attorney Steve Rothman describes the development plans to members of the NPU-B Development & Transportation Committee Tuesday night.

Attorney Steve Rothman describes the development plans to members of the NPU-B Development & Transportation Committee Tuesday night.

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.

Jason Kendall

Jason Kendall

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.

Lindbergh area resident and property owner John Baker addresses the committee in support of the development.

Lindbergh area resident and property owner Chris Baker addresses the committee in support of the development.

“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.

Development & Transportation Committee members listen as Jim Cosgrove, standing in doorway, speak against the CDP application.

Development & Transportation Committee members listen as Jim Cosgrove, standing in doorway, speak against the CDP application.

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.

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    4 Responses to NPU-B unit rejects 2 CDP land use change requests off Piedmont

    1. Andrew says:

      Really disappointing to see this committee hold up much needed development in the area. Who wants to live in an apartment complex with no convenient grocery store nearby? The highest and best use for this land is SA-3, not SA-8.

      Andrew
      Garden Hills Resident

    2. Pingback: BuckheadViewNPU-B board supports rejection of 2 CDP land use changes - BuckheadView

    3. Josh says:

      1) 80,000 sq ft is not a “neighborhood” sized grocery store, it is a suburban mega grocery store that defies SPI-15 and transit-oriented design and development.
      2) 80,000 sq ft defies existing model of current grocery stores within a 5 mile radius (none are greater than 56,000 sq ft); the alleged “need” for an 80K sq ft size has NEVER been justified by any study or neighborhood or city analysis.
      3) Most people “for” the rezoning are NOT pro-grocery store; they are ANTI low-income (because they are concerned about their own property values and having low-income students in their school district). To them, any development would be acceptable, including residential.
      4) Most people “against” the rezoning are NOT anti-development; rather, they are PRO-SMART, efficient urban development.
      5) Convergence of Path 400 and two additional bike/pedestrian trails already completed, INCREASES concern about vehicular traffic in the neighborhood that an 80,000 square foot one-stop-shop grocery store will add (especially because no plans have been proposed that outline steps for managing the traffic flow or traffic abundance this will generate).
      6) Lindbergh to Emory MARTA corridor is already approved and on the verge of beginning construction; this justifies the demand for maintaining the current zoning as residential to be able to provide options for people to take mass-transit to work (Emory, Emory hospital, the CDC, etc.).
      7) When the proposed Walmart project was rejected, residential developers (like Greystar Real Estate Development and AMLI Residential) JUMPED at the opportunity to build residential in this neighborhood; Again, clearly demonstrating there IS DEMAND for residential in this area. Rezoning this would eliminate the last remaining land that can be redeveloped to meet obvious demand for residential property and provide close proximity to MARTA.
      8) Fuqua Development is already building a mixed-use project that stacks residential on top of a Sprouts grocery store on Piedmont Rd; Clearly, Fuqua Development is capable of putting forth this kind of efficient, urban design but are opting, in this case, to develop a SUB-urban type of mega grocery store at Lindbergh, not even a mile away. This demonstrates a lack of vision and concern about the growing needs of this city and the residents of this neighborhood.

    4. Henry says:

      I am one of the members of the initial committee which approved the master plan for this area.The blending of residential, office and retail was very important to all of us who participated in this 2+ year task.
      South of Morosgo was always intended to be residential. Despite the developer’s protests about traffic flow, just try to get into or out of his developments on Ponce de Leon and in Brookhaven – traffic is a nightmare.

      Leave the master plan in place- only residential south of Morosgo!

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