Published on October 28th, 2015 |1
12-townhome development on Piedmont gets NPU zoning okay
townhomes on less than an acre of property where small offices now exist.
But even after months of contentious negotiations between the developer, adjacent property owners and the Garden Hills neighborhood—which resulted in approval of the project by the Garden Hills Civic Association—the approval Tuesday came after another display of opposition.
The Zoning Committee approved not only the change in zoning from RLC-C to MR-3, but also approved a special exception for the developer to build a maximum 6-foot fence/wall with an entrance gate in the front yard of the development on Piedmont Road.
Attorney Jessica Hill explained that the developer had reduced the original plan from 16 townhomes to 12 and is providing an undisturbed buffer of 50 feet in the rear of the property. The townhomes will average 2,300 square feet and the price will be about $600,000 each.
Hill said the conditions the developer has agreed to include: directing that the impact fees from the development be given to the neighborhood and that the sidewalk requirement be donated to the Garden Hills neighborhood for its use.
Hill pointed out that one of the concessions the developer made to the adjacent neighbors was that the last two townhomes in the development would not have rooftop decks. Also, the rooftop decks on the other 10 face toward Piedmont Road, not toward the neighborhood in back.
John Woodham was representing the interests of the neighbors in opposition to the development—about six or eight of which were in attendance at the meeting. Also attending was a group from the neighborhood who are in favor of the development.
Woodham stated that the current city Comprehensive Development Plan is not consistent with what the developer is proposing to do with the property, but Hill countered with a colored graphic of the CDP property use designations showing that it does fit the zoning request.
Woodham introduced Garden Hills resident Armistead Whitney, who presented much of the argument for the opposition and said 40 residents had signed a petition against the development.
He told the committee there is no guarantee these will remain single-family homes, but rather could turn into apartments with lots of loud parties. He also said the neighbors had never seen the actual design of the townhomes for the neighborhood.
Another opposition speaker, who lives closest to the property, said his main worry is that the development would fail. “Who would pay $600,000 for a unit on Piedmont Road,” he asked.
Zoning chair Bill Murray responded, “That is not the concern of this committee. That is the developer’s concern.”
Woodham pointed out that a 10,000-square-foot office building could be built on the property under present zoning and that would be okay with the neighbors who oppose this development.
Woodham argued that the NPU-B land use policies need to be taken seriously and referred specifically to three at issue: (1) protect boundaries of single-family and protect boundaries of a neighborhood, (2) protect the historic integrity of the neighborhood, and (3) Protect the RLC (residential) zoning nature, stating that “a 12-unit development is indeed a commercial development.”
A woman who lives closest to the proposed development spoke on behalf of those who were in favor of the development. “The neighborhood association votes on these based on the overall benefit to the neighborhood.” The Garden Hills Neighborhood Association voted in favor of the development.
“I think the fears voiced by those in opposition to this development are just speculation,” she added.
In Hill’s summary on behalf of the developer, she pointed out that the RLC zoning classification has a 20-foot rear setback. “We have 50 feet. Having 12 residences would have less impact on the neighborhood than an office building.”
She ended by saying, “Townhomes would be a good transition to the single-family neighborhood.”
The Zoning Committee approved the development and the requested 6-foot fence by a vote of 7-0-2.
The other application on the agenda that was expected to bring some neighbor opposition was never heard because the applicant never showed up. That was an application to rezone from C-3 and C-1-C to C-3 the properties at 2395, 2425 and 2451 Peachtree Road to develop a mixed-use project with 18 stories of residential over two stories of retail use adjacent to Peachtree Battle Shopping Center.