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Proposed new Town Center Land Use
Here is a well written article from Stand Up DeKalb on the topic of the proposed Town Center. Decide for yourself.
Posted: September 20th, 2009 @ 8:37am
A Message from StandUp DeKalb
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Sept. 1, the DeKalb County Planning Department unveiled its plan to push for approval of a 500-acre Town Center land use designation, stretching from I-85 eastward along North Druid Hills Road to the far side of the old DeKalb School of the Arts property. The area covered is the same area that was studied by the much ballyhooed Garvin consultants in conjunction with the proposed Sembler development at N. Druid Hills and Briarcliff. This new designation would allow a density of up to 60 units per acre, potentially up to 30,000 units. Our county officials want to smooth the road for developers like the Sembler Company to pursue development plans of a scale that residents have already said they do not want.
Here's why we at StandUp DeKalb believe that this proposal is a bad idea and must be stopped:
A town center of this magnitude will adversely affect the daily commuters, the nearby neighborhoods, and the limited public transportation infrastructure at one of Atlanta's already busiest intersections. Redevelopment of Executive Park has already been approved and traffic analysis showed this redevelopment alone would add more than 30,000 car trips to the area. North Druid Hills Road has a current average traffic count of 52,000 vehicles daily (Georgia DOT).
Developers say you will not get infrastructure without development but we say development is already proceeding in this area without this outrageous land use change and we still have no plans from the county for infrastructure improvements. There is no other land use tract of similar size and scale in the metropolitan area where one of the main traffic routes cutting through the exact center has only one lane of traffic in either direction (Briarcliff). This density and scale of development will almost certainly kill off any hope of reasonable traffic through this area. Of course, this could also merely be a prelude to the county renewing the push for a 4 lane "Briarcliff Parkway" to connect Emory to I-85.
Protecting Residential Property
The Town Center includes existing single-family residential homes on adjacent streets, in violation of the county's Comprehensive Plan policy to protect single-family residential property. This is even more egregious than the recent Ashkouti development proposal on North Druid Hills Road that received overwhelming opposition for incursion into a single-family subdivision.
The boundaries of this town center include the county-owned and managed Park at Briarcliff Apartments; school property on North Druid Hills Road including Adams Stadium, which serves as home field for Cross Keys, Druid Hills, Lakeside and Tucker High Schools; and a unique county-owned 30-acre park, Kittredge Park. Should the county offer incentives for this prime public property to be sold and redeveloped for private profit?
DeKalb County Governance
The DeKalb County Planning Department (PC) revealed its plans at the September meeting of the DeKalb Planning Commission without any prior notice, sidestepping the District 2 Community Council and surprising even the planning commissioners and the few citizens in attendance. The public notices about the PC agenda item were misleading-referring only to one parcel of property at the intersection of I-85 and North Druid Hills Road, not a 500-acre land use change stretching past Briarcliff Road This is NOT government at its best when transparency and procedures are ignored by our public officials.
The impervious surfaces in such intense development will increase water runoff to Kittredge Park and surrounding neighborhoods. Kittredge Park will be touted as an amenity for adjacent development but threatened by adverse environmental impact.
Economic impact and infrastructure costs
All of Atlanta saw how large-scale development can lead to the abuse of tax incentives with Sembler's request for a 100 percent tax abatement at the Brookhaven Town Center. We know that other developers are waiting in line behind Sembler to secure their own tax abatements from the Development Authority. Who will pay for additional water service, sewer lines, police and fire coverage?
This land use change will remove one of the major checks against out of control development in this area. Yes, most any developer in this area will have to request a rezoning before beginning a redevelopment project, but forcing them to also go through the land use change process, one project at a time, gives citizens much more opportunity for input than just a simple rezoning. This is critical to ensure that residents' wishes for the area are taken into account by our Board of Commissioners.
A limited Town Center area, adjacent to I-85, at Executive Park and in the areas already zoned as Commercial and Light Industrial has some merit. Extending it over a 500-acre area that extends past Briarcliff Road and includes and abuts single family residential, does not. The majority of land surrounding this intersection is already in a "Neighborhood Center" land use classification which was designed to encourage mixed use construction at a pedestrian-oriented scale. Town Center land use would bring the scale and density of Perimeter Mall to this intersection, which during all of the Garvin meetings is precisely what residents stated they did NOT want.
WHAT CAN WE DO ?
One thing you can do to help stop this plan is to attend the Board of Commissioner meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 6:30pm in the Decatur City Hall 509 N. McDonough Street.
PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE IN VENUE DUE TO FLOODING AT THE MALOOF BUILDING.
The Planning Department said in a meeting on Friday that they will ask for a deferral of this request and Commissioner Rader's office says he is planning to hold public meeting(s) as well.
This proposal will impact anybody who travels through this intersection and so please share the word not only with neighbors, but with friends who live anywhere in DeKalb.
Make your views known by attending the September 22 meeting, and more importantly, by contacting the Board of Commissioners and the CEO of DeKalb County:
Please share this notice with your neighbors and try to attend the meeting on Tuesday Sept. 22.
LVPCA - zoning coordinator