On Sept. 14, a letter was sent from Neighborhood Planning Unit-B to the members of the Atlanta City Council, which was forwarded to BuckheadView by Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling, who stated, “This is the best communication about the concerns over the proposed Lindbergh development that I have seen.”
|NPU-B Development &Transportation|
Committee Chair Andrea Bennett
The cover letter from NPU-B Development & Transportation Committee Chair Andrea Bennett, who also was the author of the attached main letter to council, urged council members to read carefully before casting their votes on Monday the reasons set forth in the NPU-B’s letter urging denial of Z-11-19/CDP-11-06.
It also points out that the items related to the requested land-use and zoning changes for the proposed “big box” development on Piedmont Road, between Morosgo Drive and Lindbergh Drive will come before the full City Council on Monday without recommendations from the Zoning and Community Development/Human Resources committees.
“For the reasons set forth in our letter, NPU-B urges denial,” Bennett wrote in her cover letter. “This legislation would be a significant step backward for our city. NPU-B urges the council to stick to its guns and uphold the current 2011 CDP and SPI-15 zoning regulations by voting to deny the legislation.”
The following is the text of Bennett’s main Sept. 14 letter to members of the Atlanta City Council.
Re: Z-11-19 and CDP-11-06
“I am writing on behalf of NPU-B to urge denial of the above two pieces of legislation.
“At the outset I want to emphasize that NPU-B is neither anti-development nor anti Walmart. To the contrary, NPU-B favors redevelopment of the parcel in question, but believes strongly that any redevelopment must comply with the city’s long range plan as established in the CDP and SPI-15. Our position is based not on the tenant but the failure to meet land use and zoning requirements.
“In enacting SPI-15 back in 2001, the Council stated: “The intent of the council in establishing SPI-15 Lindbergh Transit Station Area Special Public Interest District as a zoning district is to…enhance and protect the Lindbergh Transit Station area as a model for retrofitting an existing automobile-oriented commercial strip into a transit and pedestrian oriented mixed-use and multifamily urban neighborhood.”
“The present applicant, a shopping center developer, seeks to overturn both the land use and zoning in order to construct a very large (4.2 acre) surface parking lot and an adjacent one-story big box (3.7 acre) superstore.
“NPU-B recommends denial for three specific reasons:
“1. The applicant has not provided any factual basis to support a land use change. “In fact, real world conditions strongly suggest that such action would not be justified. For example:
• “The applicant has not done a traffic study, but claims its project is pedestrian and transit oriented. However, under industry standard guidelines, a superstore of this size would generate 10,541 daily auto trips.
• “The developer has suggested there is no market for multi-family residential at this site. In reality, the occupancy rate for apartments in this area is 95.8 percent.
• “The developer contends it is not feasible to put parking underneath the store. That is directly contradicted by the Walmart anchored center it is developing in Denver, where parking is placed underneath the store.
• “According to Walmart’s website, supercenters employ 300 people, not 600 as suggested by the developer.
• ”The applicant has asserted there is no grocery store in this area. However, there is a Target Fresh Grocery approximately 300 feet away. Within 1.5 miles there is a Kroger, a Trader Joe’s, a Whole Foods and 2 Publix stores. There is also an abundance of vacant retail stores and other undeveloped tracts that are designated for retail use.
“2. The proposed use is incompatible with SPI-15’s mandates for transit- and pedestrian-oriented development.
|This photo was taken the last time the attorney for the developers|
presented the development plans to the NPU-B in June of this year.
“The largest single component of this proposal is a surface parking lot of approximately 4.2 acres. This directly contravenes Subsection 8 of the SPI which mandates that any re-development within SPI-15 must “provide parking in an unobtrusive manner.”
“Large surface lots are specifically deplored in the city’s long term plan for Lindbergh. In the 2011 CDP, the Planning Department stated as follows:
““Over time [the city's] built environment gave way to suburban-style, automobile-oriented strip shopping centers, the creation of large Super blocks, large parking lots abutting streets, buildings with blank walls, and isolated residential subdivisions and gated communities as a result of zoning regulations that placed the emphasis on the automobile and separation of land uses. The result has been a breakdown in pedestrian-scaled streets and the urban fabric and character of the City. This type of development does not support a livable character or a human scale within commercial and residential districts.” (p. 314).
“Simply stated, Lindbergh is not the place for a huge, suburban surface parking lot.
“3. Throwing out the CDP and the requirements of SPI-15 profoundly undermines the planning process and community participation.
“A new wave of Americans – young and old -- is flocking to cities because they want communities that offer more than the suburban experience. Yet nothing typifies that suburban experience more than the big box superstore sitting in a huge parking lot.
“SPI-15 reflects a huge investment in planning and seeks to capitalize on the unique transit infrastructure at Lindbergh. The site in question is adjacent to MARTA’s Red Line, Gold Line, the coming Clifton Corridor line to Emory, and the Betline. It is also the nexus for 6 bus lines.
“It would be tragic to waste this opportunity to create a truly transit-oriented, pedestrian friendly district here by placing a multi-acre surface lot in the middle of things.
“The harm has already been addressed by many prominent stakeholders:
“The Atlanta Regional Commission says “this proposal does not appear to support the City of Atlanta's 2011 Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) or MARTA TOD Guidelines.”
“MARTA states, “The proposed project is heavily automobile oriented and suburban in style.”
“The Chair of Congress for a New Urbanism puts it even more bluntly: “(We) are gravely concerned about the proposal and the precedent it could set. … It is with this in mind that we believe the Lindbergh proposal would represent a step backwards if approved. What concerns us more is the precedent that this disregard for the sound planning would represent…Following on the heels of a drawn out rezoning for Lindbergh City Center, the 2001 TSADS and ensuing SPI 15 were created to avoid future battles and proactively plan for Lindbergh as a model transit-oriented development. With this history in mind, we ask you to carefully consider the negative ramifications for both the Lindbergh area and Atlanta’s public planning process if the rezoning and CDP amendments are approved, which we believe represent an unsettling deviation from the vision of the TSADS, an assault on good urbanism, and a disregard for the public process and the public trust.”
“In addition, over 500 citizens have individually set out their comments in opposition to this proposal.
“And while the Beltline has not yet weighed in, this development would literally be in their backyard. An auto-oriented, suburban style big box is anathema to the Beltline’s goal of establishing new transit and pedestrian connectivity throughout the city.
“Finally, the integrity and meaning of the entire planning process and the NPU system would be profoundly called into question if a single developer is allowed to override years of planning, community involvement, the city’s long range plans as expressed in the CDP and in Special Public Interest Districts such as SPI-15.
“If the land use and zoning requirements of SPI-15 can be dispensed with without the presentation of any factual data, what is to prevent the next developer from making the same contention elsewhere in the city?
“NPU-B is made up of some of the city’s most active and fastest growing neighborhoods. Our population in 2010 had grown to 47,292. We include Lindbergh/Morosgo, Lenox, Brookhaven, Buckhead Forest, Pine Hills, Buckhead Village, East Chastain Park, Peachtree Park, Garden Hills, Peachtree Heights East, Ridgedale Park, Peachtree Heights West, South Tuxedo Park, North Buckhead and Peachtree Hills.
“Not surprisingly, we are joined in opposition to this proposal by our neighbor, NPU-F, which includes the 23,641 residents of Atkins Park, Lindridge/Martin Manor, Morningside/Lenox Park, Piedmont Heights and Virginia Highland.
“People all over Atlanta are working hard to make our communities more livable, walkable and sustainable. We also want to ensure that the City of Atlanta does not fall behind its peers around the country and internationally. In today’s world people are drawn to urban environments that are known for their progressive goals and the ability to make themselves unique. They seek the human scale and the qualities and diversity that make a place special and identifiable.
“We fully appreciate that living in a big city requires give and take. I know that you on the council are always striving to find the right balance of interests.
“In this case, NPU-B strongly urges the Council to deny this application. It’s not what the city set out to do all those years ago. And it’s far from the best we can do now. Our process is at stake, as is our future development. “