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Published on November 4th, 2015 |

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Controversial Piedmont Rd. townhome plan gets final NPU-B okay

The controversy over an application to change the zoning on two lots at 2878 and 2884 Piedmont Road for the construction of 12 townhomes on less than an acre spilled over from the Oct. 27 meeting of the Neighborhood Planning Unit-B Zoning Committee to the full board’s meeting Tuesday night (Nov. 3).

In the end, however, the result was the same: both the Zoning Committee and full NPU-B board voted to approve the zoning change by a split vote. Tuesday night’s full board vote was 13 in favor,

NPU-B Zoning chair Bill Murray, far left, and members of the full NPU-B  board listen to arguments about the 12 townhome development proposed for Piedmont Road.

NPU-B Zoning chair Bill Murray, far left, and members of the full NPU-B board listen to arguments about the 12 townhome development proposed for Piedmont Road.

6 against and 1 abstention.

The full NPU-B board 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.

But even after eight 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.

Attorney John Woodham, representing residents on Alpine Road who oppose the development, speaks at the Nov. 3 NPU board meeing.

Attorney John Woodham, representing residents on Alpine Road who oppose the development, speaks at the Nov. 3 NPU board meeing.

Spokespersons on either side of the discussion may have changed somewhat, but the arguments from both sides at both NPU meetings remained much the same, although the debate was somewhat shorter Tuesday night before the full NPU-B board. (To read the story from the Oct. 27 Zoning Committee meeting, click here.)

Morris Manning and Martin attorney Carl Westmoreland, who replaced attorney Jessica Hill for the full board meeting Tuesday night, briefly outlined the developer’s proposal for the 12 townhomes on the two lots (where small offices now exist), and the concessions that had been made during negotiations with the Garden Hills neighborhood.

He said the conditions the developer has agreed to include: providing an undisturbed buffer of 50 feet in the rear of the property, directing that the

NPU-B Board chair Andrea Bennett, right, and board members Nancy Bliwise and  listen to the debate over the townhome development.

NPU-B Board chair Andrea Bennett, right, and board members Nancy Bliwise and Kim Shorter listen to the debate over the townhome development.

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.

The townhomes will average 2,300 square feet and the price will be about $600,000 each.

Westmoreland offered to keep his presentation brief and then to respond to the opposition’s claims about the project and answer questions from the NPU-N board.

John Woodham , who was representing some 47 homeowners who live mostly on Alpine Drive in Garden Hills, stated that the current city Comprehensive Development Plan is not consistent with what the developer is proposing to do with the property.

Garden Hills resident Beth Liddell, who lives closest to the proposed development and favors it, speaks to the issue Nov. 3.

Garden Hills resident Beth Liddell, who lives closest to the proposed development and favors it, speaks to the issue Nov. 3.

“I have never seen anything like this before with this many people this close to the property being opposed to the development and it went through,” Woodham told the full board, referring to the previous vote Oct. 27 by the Zoning Committee.

Woodham said the precedent on Peachtree Road is for four residential units maximum per lot, which would allow eight residential units on these two lots. He said, “I am pretty confident it is unlawful zoning.”

Woodham said he believed the Alpine Drive residents “are willing to hammer out an agreement for eight residences on the two lots.” But, he added that the 10,000 square-foot office building with 33 parking spaces that is allowed on the lots by present zoning is preferred by the Alpine residents over the developer’s plan for 12 townhomes.

Woodham, who has indicated in both NPU meetings that the reason the developer is sticking to the 12 townhomes for the project is because of the

NPU-B board members Bob Stasiowski, Cathy Boston and Amy Hillman listen to the zoning debate Nov. 3.

NPU-B board members Bob Stasiowski, Cathy Boston and Amy Hillman listen to the zoning debate Nov. 3.

price he has to pay for the property, had earlier sent an email to BuckheadView stating he was sure this zoning issue will end up in Superior Court.

NPU-B Zoning chair Bill Murray said the committee looked at the land use and zoning, not at the cost of the property. “Through eight months of negotiations, there should have been ample time for the Alpine folks to have their input and objections heard,” Murray added.

Michael Isaacs, who represents Garden Hills on the Zoning Committee, told the board, “We negotiated as best we could and presented to the GHCA board. The GHCA boards vote was not unanimous, but was a strong support. We felt we had a fair resolution and compromise.”

A couple of the NPU board members seemed to agree with fellow member Jason Kendall, who said his problem was that the density would increase 2.5 times to 24,000-plus square feet. The present FAR is 10,000 square feet.

The final comments came from Beth Liddell, who said her property is the closest to the planned new development and is in favor of it. “We feel the residential creates a good buffer to protect the neighborhood” from the commercial along Piedmont Road.

“We want people there who want to settle in the area….become part of the neighborhood,” she told the board. “We urge you to take the recommendation of the Garden Hills Civic Association.”

In another zoning action, NPU-B’s board Tuesday night also approved another applications that was anticipated to possibly be controversial—one that would replace 28 condominium units at 4087 Haverhill, 321 Herrington and 320 Lakemoore in North Buckhead with 30 single-family homes.

However, that application by developer Cole Forsyth drew little neighborhood attention at either the Tuesday night board meeting nor the Oct. 27 meeting of the NPU-B Zoning Committee.

Forsyth, who did a similar development on Conifer Circle near Phipps Plaza, told the Zoning Committee that the sale price for the condos was in the $150,000 range and the new homes will range from $800,000 to $1 million.

That zoning change was approved by the Zoning Committee 8-0 with 1 abstention and got overwhelming approval from the full NPU board Tuesday night.

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