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Small Victory for Beltline

By Kristin Andris
Smart Growth Atlanta (SGA), the Grant Park Neighborhood Association (GPNA), and South Atlantans for Neighborhood Development (SAND) recruited more than 600 residents to attend an Atlanta zoning review board hearing at city hall on August 8. A city employee reported that the crowd was the largest recorded attendance in at least 27 years.
The residents of Grant Park, SAND communities came to support Z-13-24, legislation to rezone property at 800 and 860 Glenwood Avenue from the Light Industrial /Beltline Overlay zoning district to the Multi-family Residential/Beltline Overlay zoning district. The legislation passed by a vote of two to one, aiding residents in their efforts to prevent a 155,000 square foot retail store and more than 1100 parking space lot from being built in the Subarea 4 of the Atlanta Beltline Master Plan.
“We are not against growth and development. We are for smart growth and urban development,” said Rick Hudson, chair of the GPNA Land Use and Zoning Committee. “This suburban style development is simply not right for the location. It has no residential component. It generates just over $2 million a year in property taxes and the proposed Beltline Master Plan would generate over $7 million a year. The proposed Beltline Master Plan would also provide the density of people for transit viability and ridership. The proposed Fuqua development is not consistent with the spirit or vision of the Beltline that we have all worked together for over 10 years to bring to life.”
Although the passage of Z-13-24 will help prevent future developers from obtaining permits to build big box retail stores in the area, concerned residents must still address the approved Special Administrative Permit (SAP) held by Fuqua Development Glenwood, LLC. The SAP was approved on July 12 by the Director of the City of Atlanta’s Office of Planning with conditions set out in the red-lined site plan.
Smart Growth Atlanta, an organization comprised of citizens and neighborhood associations in the affected area, filed an appeal against the SAP approval on August 9. SGA argues that the Director acted arbitrarily in disregarding several important inconsistencies between the SAP application and the applicable Beltline Overlay District Regulations codified at section 16-36 et. seq. of the Atlanta Code of Ordinances and in the Beltline Subarea 4 Master Plan.
Section 16-36.002 lists 15 specific policies to promote the objectives of the Beltline Regulations. Such objectives include the preservation of historical physical character, compatibility with existing adjacent single-family neighborhoods, facilitation of a safe pedestrian oriented environment, and creation of a “diversified urban environment where people can live, work, shop, meet, and play.” SGA’s appeal application, which is published at www.smartgrowthatlanta.org, provides examples for how the development is inconsistent with 11 of the 15 policies.
“In sum, it cannot be overstated how inconsistent, and indeed antithetical, the Proposed Redevelopment is with each and every stated purpose and intent of the Beltline Regulations,” states the appeal. “The Proposed Redevelopment would increase congestion, decrease the urban character of the area, remove the historic physical character, increase commercial parking in proximity to residential neighborhoods and, overall, negatively impact the aesthetics of streets and built environments in every conceivable way.”
The Beltline Subarea 4 Master Plan also lists many of the above objectives, in addition to stressing intent to increase residential dwelling units on Glenwood Avenue and improve street connectivity between Grant Park and Glenwood Park. The big box shopping center would limit residential construction. Although the developer’s revised application creates a thru-street between the two neighborhoods, the street passes between the anchor parking lot and the anchor store itself.
“The developer has jerry-rigged their plan to pay lip service to the Beltline Subarea 4 Master Plan’s desired street connectivity,” said Lauren Rocereta, President of GPNA. “They ignore Beltline Subarea 4 Master Plan’s goal to create a walkable mixed-use neighborhood environment between Grant Park and Glenwood Park.”
SGA’s appeal of the SAP will be heard by the Board of Zoning Adjustment at noon on October 10, 2013 at City Hall. SGA is encouraging the same overwhelming participation that was exhibited at the ZRB hearing. Donations for legal counsel are also being accepted. SGA is being represented by Dana Maine of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP.
For more information, visit www.smartgrowthatlanta.org.

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