Published on July 12th, 2015 |0
NPU-B delays vote to August on touchy Connect Atlanta changes
The NPU-B board was to have been asked to vote on the proposed legislative appendices to the Connect Atlanta plan on July 7, so in June it formed an ad hoc committee to provide a list of
comments regarding the NPU’s concerns to the city prior having to take that vote.
The major arguments voice at the June 2 meeting related to the strategy for advancing transit-oriented development was that the city already has sufficient legislation in place defining TODs (transit-oriented developments) and that this new proposed change to that could adversely encroach on and affect established residential neighborhoods in Buckhead.
But NPU-B chair Andrea Bennett told the board July 7 that she had been in communication with the city’s Planning Department and there were changes being made to the proposals regarding TODs and the required vote on the legislation would be delayed until NPU-Bs August meeting.
Bennett had also sent out an email to board members informing them that the city was working on changes to its original proposal regarding TODs and the vote on July 7 would not be necessary. But there was virtually no discussion of the two issues in the public meeting July 7.
BuckheadView questioned why the changes being considered by the city were not discussed in the open board meeting July 7, since it had been a major issued at the June board meeting and a discussion of the NPU-B’s suggested changes had been promised during the July meeting.
Bennett said during the July 7 meeting that the city was making changes to its original proposal to expand TODs and that is why the vote was being delayed a month. However, there was virtually no discussion of what changes the city was making or why there was no report July 7 from the NPU’s ad hoc committee.
In an email to BuckheadView, Bennett wrote: “There were some concerns raised about these updates when they were initially proposed, particularly with respect to the boundaries for TOD. I
emailed the city planner about this and discussed it with them by telephone.
“They agreed that the update needed to be clarified to make it plain that it was not intended to extend TOD into existing single family neighborhoods,” Bennett wrote BuckheadView. “They are updating the maps and the text of the proposed amendments but they are not finished yet. That is why I suggested that we not vote on the matter yet.”
But at its June meeting, some members of the NPU board also voiced strong concerns about the direction the Bike Atlanta plans were going and the placement of new bike lanes on existing major city thoroughfares, which reduces the travel capacity for motor vehicles. There was concern not just about the present changes proposed, but for the precedent they might set.
It seemed that too was an element of the Connect Atlanta plan amendments that the NPU’s ad hoc committee was charged to come up with discussion points to be brought before the city for further review. That was not part of the discussion at the July 7 meeting.
On Sunday, Bennett told BuckheadView via an email that there never was a formal committee formed, but rather an informal invitation for anyone who wanted to participate in providing input to the city to work together to provide that input. She said her memo did not stop any discussion among those in that group.
There are basically four parts to the Connect Atlanta legislative proposals—two of which were fairly noncontroversial with NPU board members, dealing with freight movements and the adoption of complete streets guidelines.
In her email to NPU-B board members, Bennett said the item dealing with Transit Oriented Development “initially raised some concerns because of the language encouraging this within a 1/2 mile radius of MARTA stations. That would have impacted many solidly single family neighborhoods. In addition, the areas around the MARTA stations are already governed by SPI’s which define where TOD can take place.”
Among those established single-family home neighborhoods would be Garden Hills, Peachtree Hills, Peachtree Heights East, Peachtree Park, Pine Hills, Roxboro
Estates and possibly the lower end of North Buckhead.
Bennett told board members, “The city has agreed that the update needs clarification to make it clear that it is not intended to affect or disrupt existing single family neighborhoods or to bring increased density to those neighborhoods.
“The city is preparing updated maps and text clarifications for that purpose. They are not ready yet and we thus don’t need to vote on this until August,” she informed board members.
At the June meeting, NPU-B secretary Jim Cosgrove also voiced objection to city’s plan to add bike lanes to major thoroughfares, including Peachtree Road in Buckhead. He said he has nothing against having bike routes in the city, but they should be routed through less dangerous areas and on less congested roadways.
“We have to decide do we want to ride bicycles or drive cars on Peachtree,” Cosgrove said. “I think this is really, really critical.”
In her email to board members, Bennett said of the Bike Atlanta section of the city’s proposed legislation: “At this time, the only bike corridor heading our way would be Peachtree. However, the bike aspects would not extend beyond the point where the BeltLine crosses Peachtree (approximately the Bennett Street area),” she wrote.
“So no new bike lanes are proposed within NPU-B at this time,” Bennett told board members. “Obviously, if that were to change at some point in the future we would need to know the details and be able to weigh in.”
We will have to wait to see if the NPU’s ad hoc committee comes forth with recommendations in these two controversial areas of the proposed legislation at the August 4 meeting of the NPU-B board, which is held at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Philip, in the 2700 block of Peachtree Road in Buckhead.