Buckhead’s Dist. 7 City Councilman Howard Shook Monday introduced a resolution, which was unanimously supported by every member of City Council, urging Mayor Kasim Reed and the Georgia Department of Transportation to resolve the legal issues between billboards and trees on state routes within the city.
|Dist. 7 City Councilman|
Atlanta's desire to create vibrant, healthy, walkable places to work, shop and live relies in no small part on the installation of street trees,” Shook stated. “Indeed, hundreds have already been planted and many more approved via legislation adopting specific projects and as well as aspirational plans.
“These trees could be at risk pursuant to the interpretation of a recently changed state law regulating the relationship between billboards and trees along state routes,” Shook explained. “The resolution states council's desire that Mayor Reed or an appropriate representative work with GDOT to develop a policy that promotes and protects the public's interest.”
|Billboards on top of buildings at the intersection of Peachtree, Roswell and|
Paces Ferry roads (shown at left and right) could jeopardize the streetscape
and landscape plans for developments in the Buckhead area of Atlanta.
Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead, recently discovered that legislation passed by the Georgia General Assemby dictates that trees cannot be planted within 500 feet of a billboard, and may require that trees within that 500-foot zone could have to be removed.
There are billboards at the intersection of Peachtree, Roswell and Paces Ferry roads that are within 500 feet of the new Buckhead Atlanta and Restoration Hardware developments and the Peachtree Road and Buckhead Village streetscape plans.
Starling spearheaded most of the public and shareholder input that led to the city of Atlanta’s special public interest districts (SPI-9 and SPI-12) legislation that set the zoning standards for new and redone developments to create more walkable, pedestrian friendly environments in Buckhead with standards for buildings as well as for streetscapes, sidewalks, and trees and landscapes,
According to what Starling told the Development Review Committees of both SPI-12 and SPI-9, the 2011 state legislation, which is now being enforced, could dramatically affect the streetscape and landscape plans for these new Buckhead developments and might require revising the city legislation passed in 2010 and 2012.
Starling said that enforcement of the law could totally alter the approved streetscape and landscape plans all around the Buckhead Atlanta development as well as up and down Peachtree Road. Trees that presently exist may have to be removed, she added.
Shook’s resolution, which was introduced at the end of Monday’s meeting of the Atlanta City Council, is an attempt to stave off those potential dramatic affects of the 2011 state legislation, which was recently upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court.
Shook told BuckheadView Monday that the resolution received unanimous support of the members of City Council because the state law, if fully enforced, could jeopardize developments and community environments throughout the city of Atlanta.
In Buckhead, there also are existing billboards on Peachtree Road south of Pharr Road as well
as billboards north of the Charlie Loudermilk
Park on Roswell Road that could affect plans for new development in that area.
|Could the trees in Charlie Loudermilk Park, at the intersection of|
Peachtree and Roswell roads be in jeopardy of having to be cut
down because of the state legislation passed in 2011?
The Buckhead Community Improvement District has plans to improve Peachtree Road from Piedmont Road to the south end of The Peach shopping center, which would include turning it into a boulevard—like that north of Piedmont Road—and which would include extensive streetscapes with new tree plantings.
All of that could be in jeopardy under the state legislation the billboard lobby convinced the Georgia legislature to pass in 2011, and which was essentially upheld earlier this year by a Georgia Supreme Court ruling.
“The community has worked hard and spent a lot of money over the years to develop the zoning standards and projects that create a walkable, pedestrian friendly environment—of which trees are a vital component,” Starling told BuckheadView.
“I personally find it shocking to have to seek permission from billboard owners to adhere to adopted zoning codes—particularly when they (billboards) are nonconforming uses,” Starling added. “I am confident the billboard owners will see that the value of those boards is highly dependent upon the value of the land in the community--which we are enhancing—and work with us to get a workable solution.”