Neighborhood News

Published on November 5th, 2014 |

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NPU-B board supports rejection of 2 CDP land use changes

The full board of Neighborhood Planning Unit-B Tuesday night stood behind its Development & Transportation Committee and denied two applications to change the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan on land use issues, but neither of the votes were unanimous.

Attorney Steve Rothman describes the development plans to members of the NPU-B Development & Transportation Committee Oct. 28.

Attorney Steve Rothman describes the development plans to members of the NPU-B Development & Transportation Committee Oct. 28.

The first of the applications on the agenda was for a GDP amendment filed by Fuqua Development to change the land use for tracts in the Lindbergh area of Buckhead to allow for a multi-use development including a Kroger supermarket, replacing present residential.

The full NPU-B board supported the rejection of its D&T Committee by a vote of 21-2 with no abstentions, but not without some discussion in favor or the GDP change and the need for a grocery store in that area.

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.

The NPU-B’s D&T Committee had denied this GDP change as well and the full board ended up supporting its committee’s decision after even more discussion with a vote of 16 to 5 with 2 abstentions.

The Development & Transportation Committee had voted 8-1 to reject Fuqua’s application to change 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 a Kroger grocery store.

Fuqua Development’s attorney Steve Rothman and members of the D&T Committee all agreed that the two sides are still negotiating compromises that could make the project east of Piedmont Road—between Lindbergh and Morosco drives—palatable to both Fuqua and NPU-B.

Fuqua’s plans to develop this tract and have the land use changed for commercial use from residential has been bumping around NPU-B meetings for more than two years, first as a

NPU-B board member  Brian Ward  studies the site plan for the property at 605 Burlington Road.

NPU-B board member Brian Ward studies the site plan for the property at 605 Burlington Road.

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 which plans to build a 173-unit age-restricted for-rent residential development on the 9 acres that are included in what is presently being presented for approval by NPU-B for changes in both land use and zoning.

On Oct. 28, Fuqua attorney Rothman asked the D&T Committee to vote on the CDP application because CDP changes are only considered by the city every quarter and Fuqua would have to wait until March before the request could be considered. (To read the earlier story, click here.)

Tuesday night, Rothman told the full NPU-B board members, “This is a procedure because the next meeting is in March. We wanted a vote. It is pure process. The goal is to come back with a deal that works,” he added.

NPOU-B board chair Andrea Bennett, left to right, and board members Cory Tibs and Karen listen to discussion.

NPOU-B board chair Andrea Bennett, left to right, and board members Cory Tibbs and Cathy Boston and zoning chair Bill Murray listen to discussion.

NPU-B chair Andrea Bennett told the board, “both parties are continuing conversations. The vote is what it is and will be registered.”

But board member Mark Tiller said he felt the D&T Committee “is being shortsighted in its decision.”

D&T Committee and board member Abbie Shepherd countered, “the neighborhood wants a grocery store….No one is opposed to a grocery store. But the committee wants changes and has not seen those changes.”

It was pointed out that the application to amend the land use element of the can go forward and might get approval for the CDP, but Fuqua Development will still have to return to NPU-B for approval of zoning changes that have so far been deferred.

The consideration of the second application for a change to the CDP brought even more discussion and differences of opinions among the members of the NPU-B board as to whether or not a piece of property along Piedmont Road more rightfully should remain a single-family residence or be redirected to minimal commercial use.

Attorney She Roberts presented the case for the property owner Camille Foster, who wants to turn the 950-square-foot house at 605 Darlington Road—at the intersection of Darlington and Peachtree roads—into a salon for her hairdresser, a commercial use. But the Peachtree Park neighborhood has drawn a line in the sand.

Property owner Camille Foster, left, with attorney Shea Roberts address the NPU-B board.

Property owner Camille Foster, left, with attorney Shea Roberts address the NPU-B board.

Foster 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 for 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 Peachtree Park. It was made clear that the Georgia Department of Transportation would never allow a curb cut on Piedmont Road for the property.

NPU-B Zoning Committee chair Bill Murray told the board the situation is similar directly across Piedmont Road in the Garden Hills neighborhood. “We bent the rules there and have a nice site now that previously was an eyesore.”

Murray said, “The applicant can’t redevelop and improve the site unless there is some revenue from it,” a point that was reinforced by Foster.

Attorney Roberts pointed out that the salon would only generate a couple of clients an hour when open and added that it is the only corner lot on Piedmont Road in Peachtree Park that has not to commercial use.

Peachtree Park Zoning Committee chair Cathy Muzzy told the NPU-B board that when the previous owner of the property tried to have it changed for commercial use “we developed a plan for a nice home on the lot,” including approving a 12-foot landscaped wall to screen the home from Piedmont Road.

NPU-B board member and real estate professional Jim Cosgrove, who was a former resident of Peachtree Park, told the board, “We really need to support the neighborhood on this. This is a big deal. It is a CDP change.”
Cosgrove pointed out that this property and one across the street once looked very much the same. Then the former owner graded the property so that it looks like a commercial lot rather than residential.

“If you have a CDP change on this lot, it will happen to the lot across the street,” Cosgrove said, suggesting that it continue to creep down the street like on Shadowlawn in Buckhead.

It was pointed out that approving the CDP change could open the door for a larger commercial building on the property, but attorney Roberts pointed out that the application is contingent on the site plan that has been submitted.

That opened the door to clichés. Muzzy said “once the dam is broken it is broken”. Cosgrove added, “once the CDP is changed, the cat is out of the bag.”

NPU-B chair Andrea Bennett, concluding the discussion, told the board, “The situation here is going to become increasingly more common. The CDP is a long-term plan. Once you change it, it opens the door to allowing it to creep into neighborhoods.

With that, the board voted 16-5 with 2 abstentions to support the decision by the D&T Committee and deny the application.

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