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UPDATE: NPU-F Issues Statement about Controversial Lindbergh Development

Jane Rawlings, Chair NPU-F, has written a letter objecting to the rezoning ahead of the Aug. 1 Atlanta Council Zoning Committee hearing.

Editor's note: Buckhead View reported that yesterday's meeting of the council's Zoning Committee was cancelled due to a lack of quorum. The delay on a final decision could now be more than a month since the council is on recess for the next two weeks. A full City Council meeting is scheduled for August 20, which is when they were to address the issue. However, it still has to go through the council’s Zoning Committee prior to being taken up by the full council, the report says.

Dear City of Atlanta Council Zoning Committee Members,

On behalf of NPU-F, I write urging members of the Council’s Zoning Committee to recommend denial of Z-11-19 and its companion amendment (CDP-11-06), 690 Lindbergh Drive, 723-745 Morosgo Drive, and 2472-2480 Adina Drive. We find the application to be inconsistent with the 2000 Lindbergh Transportation Area Development Study (TSADS). as did over 80+ members of the public who attended the ZRB hearing on this application. NPU-F objects to the rezoning on both substantive matters of zoning and land use as well as its potential deleterious effects on SPI policy city-wide and these objections are outlined below.

The application as currently configured includes several inconsistencies with the intent of Transit Oriented Development (TOD).

One of the objectives of the Lindbergh TSADS study was “to provide an attractive, pedestrian scale and urban streetscape.” This plan fails in that regard along Lindbergh Drive where a high retaining wall will serve to separate the pedestrian from the site. The retaining wall coupled with the proposed 600+ space parking lot located immediately adjacent to Lindbergh Drive creates a foreboding and sterile pedestrian experience and illustrates a design which is automobile centric in its approach.

The large footprint of the anchor tenant (150,000 square feet) and its high vehicular trip generating use, again is designed for cars not pedestrians or transit riders. Indeed in its original staff report published on September 12, 2011 the Planning Department then concluded in relation to this proposal, “A single story commercial only development at this location is an inefficient use of land and will contribute to the under utilization of the Lindbergh transit station and could contribute to increased traffic. A moreappropriate use would be a mixed use development with high density residential with ground floor retail.”

In its July 2012 Staff Report, Planning determined that “the proposed site is suitable to accommodate a mixture of uses.” Unfortunately, what one sees with this site plan is four, distinct, large blocks that do not combine uses within the blocks themselves. One block is dedicated entirely to a suburban style, single story commercial use, another block is dedicated entirely to parking, and a third block an underutilized multistory residential building that the planning department admits has “the capacity to develop much more residential development than what is currently proposed.” Indeed what is proposed for the 21 acre site is a 17% residential and 83% commercial mix. This is a huge departure from the original plan for the SPI-15 district. And, yes, while the development may bring jobs to the area, the simultaneous elimination of affordable housing which will result, drives potential workers further away from job centers in the urban core due to lack of available affordable housing.

Expand upon the positive.

There are positive elements to the plan upon which a good proposal could be constructed. The street grid is considerably improved, providing the necessary infrastructure to create and define a shared public space. In addition, the 3 acre park is much needed, appreciated, and enhances the surroundings. It also affords the opportunity to connect to an existing and/or proposed pedestrian/bike network that could prove to be a fantastic amenity to this part of the city. Please note, however, that both the park and residential component of the plan could be constructed under the current zoning and land useconditions and do not require a rezoning/change in land use to realize.

SPI Policy Implications

In 2001 the City of Atlanta adopted the Lindbergh Transit Station Area Development Study (TSADS) and it reflects the contemplative, deliberate, and collaborative input from property owners (including the owners of the subject property), business owners, residents, and adjacent neighborhoods. The purpose of the study was to provide a concept plan and action program for the development of a transit oriented neighborhood around the Lindbergh MARTA transit station. From this study came the SPI-15, Atlanta's first new transit oriented neighborhood.

It is troubling to contemplate the possible deviation from this plan should this rezoning and land use change proceed as currently proposed for such would represent an abandonment of, and disregard for, the public process establishing these design guidelines. Such an assault on SPI districts could set a dangerous precedent city-wide and deserves attention from leaders and representatives from all areas of Atlanta and not simply adjacent neighborhoods.

The central question before the City Council is this: are we designing for cars or people?

Your decision on this application will answer this question and define this corridor for the next 30+ years so please get it right. By voting to deny this application, you choose people over cars, urban form over suburban form, and preserve the intent of SPI-15 which the surrounding citizens have endorsed and championed. This is the kind of City I want us to be. You have the authority to make it so.

Respectfully,

Jane Rawlings, Chair NPU-F

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