Long after a Neighborhood Planning Unit B Zoning Committee meeting cleared of a crowd of residents and media interested in only the Randolph-Lucas House discussion and the other six cases on the agenda were voted on, one attorney remained with another new appeal for approval of a commercial mixed-use development off Piedmont Road in the Lindbergh area.
Attorney Stephen Rothman, of Wilson Brock & Irby LLC, has been before committees of NPU-B, as well as the full board, representing Jeff Fuqua and The Sembler Co. possibly a dozen times since last summer attempting unsuccessfully to gain approval for their plans for this development.
|NPU-B Zoning Committee listens Tuesday night as attorney Stephen|
Rothman describes the latest changes made to the plans for a mixed-use
development proposed for the Lindbergh area off Piedmont Road.
Tuesday night’s attempt before the NPU-B Zoning Committee resulted in another rejection.
The issue involves the developer’s attempts to get approval to change the land use element of the CDP to re-designate property bounded by Lindberg Drive, Piedmont Road, Morosgo Drive and Adina Drive from high-density residential land use designation to a high-density mixed-use land use designation.
The sticking point has been that Sembler first talked about putting a food supermarket in the development, which the NPU believes is needed in that location. However, the plan was later changed to a “big box” Wal-Mart super store containing a food market. The NPU has rejected the big box concept from the beginning.
The NPU’s Zoning Committee, Development & Transportation Committee and the full board in, meetings since last August as well as private discussion sessions, have said over and over again they want to see a development at the site with a grocery store, but have repeatedly asked for changes that the developers have brought to the table.
On Tuesday night, NPU-B Board chair Sally Silver, who also works with Dist 7 City Councilman Howard Shook on development issues in his district, said she saw the latest iteration of the plan Rothman was presenting to the Zoning Committee for the first time that morning.
|NPU-B Zoning Committee members review the latest changes in plans for a|
proposed mixed-use development for the Lindbergh area off Piedmont Road
that were submitted Tuesday night by Sembler and Jeff Fuqua.
Silver pointed out that the NPU has denied the developer’s requested change to the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) but the developer has continued to meet with the city’s Planning Department.
Silver said the plan gets tweaked a little every time, but not changed the way the NPU has requested. Stating she cannot support this latest plan, Silver added, “Sure things get addressed, but not everything gets addressed.”
For instance, while the developers have now added a 3-acre park into the project, they have not elimated the “big box” and have not addressed the large surface parking area. The developers now have added 240 residential apartment units in a three-story, 240,000-square-foot building.
She said that when the Special Public Interest district was formed for the Lindbergh area, and the CDP was altered to allow for mixed-use developments in the area, everyone wanted to see a grocery store located there, but no one wanted another “big box” such as a typical Wal-Mart.
The developers have contended that they tried to sell the stand-alone grocery store concept to operators such as Publix, but they were unable to generate any interest. They claim those operators say there would not be enough shopping traffic to sustain such a grocery store. Thus they turned to a client such as Wal-Mart for a larger multi-department anchor store.
The committee members suggested that one of the new, smaller Wal-Mart local grocery stores might well be acceptable, but that the typical Wal-Mart, which would include a grocery area, is not acceptable. The plan presented Tuesday night still included a 150,000-square-foot anchor store, which everyone understood would likely be a Wal-Mart.
Among the sentiments expressed by committee members were:
“We are looking at being forward thinking….We are 100 percent behind urban design, but this is not good urban design.”
“There is no reason for this area to get short-shrift when other areas don’t.”
“If the T-SPLOST passes July 31, this could become a prime residential area for teachers, students and such (with the proposed rail line extension from Lindbergh to Emory University) that would support a good stand-along grocery store.”
|Developer Jeff Fuqua attended an NPU-B board meeting in|
April at which the development plans were discussed and
then rejected by the NPU because it included a big box store.
Prior to Tuesday night, the last time Sembler and Jeff Fuqua, who by then had left Sembler as its local president, appeared before NPU-B was April 4 before the full board and March 27 before the Zoning and Development & Transportation committees. That also resulted in an ill-fated bid to get the NPU’s approval of a land use amendment to the CDP.
Silver and other members of the board again expressed their desire to see this project done. “But this isn’t a good option,” Silver stated as she moved for denial, which was passed by the committee.
Silver then turned to Rothman and urged him to return to the full NPU-B board meeting in one week on July 3 with Jeff Fuqua and the representative of the “big box” operator the developer is talking with so that the board can clearly define what is acceptable and can discuss with the store operator why it needs to consider a stand-along grocery store only.
Rothman seemed to understand the request, but did not make any promises.