Friday, February 1, 2013

NPU-W again urges city to reject Fuqua's plan for retail center along Atlanta Beltline

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Neighborhood says cookie cutter development isnt appropriate for site
  • Fuqua Development
  • Neighborhood says 'cookie cutter' development isn't appropriate for site
Residents who live near a proposed mammoth retail center along the Atlanta Beltline near Glenwood Park have once again told the city that developer Jeff Fuqua's plans are unacceptable.

Neighborhood Planning Unit-W, which includes East Atlanta, Grant Park, Ormewood Park, and other communities, says the the developer's revised pitch is no different from the plan the group - and the city - rejected late last year.

"NPU-W finds that the 'revised' application contains many of the defects of the 'original' application, along with some new flaws," the response says. "Therefore, NPU-W's position on the 'revised' application is that is should be rejected."

Fuqua, who helped developed the Egdewood Retail District and Town Brookhaven, wants to turn the former concrete facility into a retail center that would include streetfront retail that hides a mammoth parking lot. A 155,00-square-foot retail space would occupy the rear of the property. Fuqua offered to build the Beltline bike trail that planners envision snaking through the 10-acre property.

The NPU listed several causes for concern that it found in the developer's application. It says Fuqua's new application fails to explain why it needs exemptions from certain development requirements, including the construction of a street grid in the middle of the property, and is vague on certain plans for the parcel.

In addition, it claimed Fuqua's promise to build an extension of the Beltline bike trail that would snake through the property creates a "conflict of interest."

"The City of Atlanta is being offered, gratis, the costs of construction of this portion of the Trail,
plus some form of easement granting a public right of travel over the Trail," the document says. "It is unseemly and inappropriate for such a carrot to be dangled by a developer in return for the grant of an SAP."

The residents also say Fuqua's plan does not adhere to the city's comprehensive development plans.

"The cookie-cutter, suburban-style shopping center with urban window dressing is simply not appropriate for this site," the NPU says.

The executive summary of the NPU's response follows after the jump.


NPU-W offers the following response to the "revised" Application No. BL-12-035. NPU-W's response takes the following form: An Executive Summary of the Response, The Complete Response, and its Appendices. NPU-W finds that the "revised" application contains many of the defects of the "original" application, along with some new flaws. Therefore, NPU-W's position on the "revised" application is that is should be rejected.


Section 1. Letter from Applicant
The applicant summarily states the deficiencies in the original application have been corrected in the "revised" application, but fails to state what the deficiencies were or how they were corrected. The applicant characterizes the variations being sought as minor, which reflect a limited understanding of planning process involved in developing the Beltline Overlay District Regulations ("Beltline Regulations") and the SubArea 4 Plan. The application fails to explain how it satisfies the public purposes and intent of the Beltline Regulations, or how it provides a greater degree of public protection than those Regulations currently provide.

Section 2. Stated Variation Requests from Beltline Regulations
Applicant seeks a variation from the Regulations from the street typology because it alleges, without offering any factual support for its claim, that there is insufficient space in the northwest corner of the site in which to provide the fully street typology. The application is devoid of any type of detailed plan or drawing which illustrates the impossibility of implementing the typology.

The Application alleges that the adopted street plan is fundamentally flawed by asserting without substantiation nor attribution, a claim that the plan was developed based on a misunderstanding of the location of the Stockade Trunk Sewer Line. The Applicant then claims that as a result of the street grid and sewer easements, the block size is undevelopable. For a plethora of reasons, the applicant's reasoning is lacking. First, the BOP lacks the power to override the City Council and permit a variance from an adopted street plan. Second, the applicant never explains why the block size is undevelopable, other than asserting that it is too small for the 155,000 sq. ft. suburban big box store applicant wishes to place on this site. Third,
the stated public purpose of the block sizes in the adopted street plan is to achieve the public purpose of improving access to the Beltline, reducing congestion, and enhance the urban character of the area. Fourth, there is a variance process, through which one can obtain a permit to build within the sewer easements and thus eliminating applicant's self-inflicted condition. Fifth, applicant's attempt to argue for hardship is misplaced, as hardship is not a consideration under the Beltline Regulations. Sixth, no variation from a proposed street grid plan has been granted in the past, and nothing in this application convincingly suggests that should change.

Section 3. Conflict of Interest.
The City of Atlanta is being offered, gratis, the costs of construction of this portion of the Trail, plus some form of easement granting a public right of travel over the Trail. It is unseemly and inappropriate for such a carrot to be dangled by a developer in return for the grant of an SAP.

Section 4. Site Plan.
The applicant should be required to re-submit an SAP Application in the event that any subsequent changes to any approved SAP must be made to comply with the City's ordinances governing land disturbance, drainage, or any other matter that occurs after the SAP review process has been completed. The "revised" application site plan leaves multiple items vague and unclear, these must be clarified in order to properly review this application.
The Beltline Trail's position relative to Chester Avenue should be examined in light of this proposal and consideration should be given to shifting the Trail from the west side of Chester to the east side. Similarly, the Trail's position relative to Faith Avenue should be examined as well. The current positioning of the Trail was performed without the knowledge of the current development proposal, and should updated to reflect it.

The "revised" site plan shows the Trail width at 10 feet. The Beltline plans call for 20 feet on this segment of the Trail, if the applicant is seeking a variation on this issue, then it should so state and explain the reasoning for it.

Section 5. Beltline Overlay District.
The applicant has submitted at least three specific items that should require a variation from the Regulations, but the applicant has failed to mention such requests.

Section 6. SubArea 4 Plan.
The Plan was developed in a deliberative and consultative manner over a great period of time. Its findings were based on the input of every conceivable stakeholder. Nothing put forward in the current application warrants modification of the Plan.

Section 7. City Policies.
The application is inconsistent with the stated policies of the City of Atlanta's Comprehensive Development Plan. It fails in terms of Street Connectivity, Pedestrians & Cyclists, Streetscapes, Landuse, Building Design, and Parking & Access. The cookie cutter suburban style shopping center with urban window dressing is simply not appropriate for this site.

Section 8. Atlanta Regional Commission Review.
The ARC reviewed the original application and found that any development should be performed in a manner consistent with the SubArea 4 Plan.


A. Problems with Delivery of "Revised" Application.
NPU-W contends that the applicant failed to supply it with the complete application and thus NPU-W's review of this application has been severely hampered. While the NPU-W did receive the project detail elevations date stamped December 28, 2012 by BOP, it never received hard copies of the documents. BOP supplied NPU-W with electronic copies of the site plans submitted on December 21, 2012, but these are so reduced in size so as to be illegible.
The applicant was required to supply to BOP, "a signed affidavit of said NPU notification." NPUW has never received any signed affidavit from the applicant nor from BOP. Therefore, NPU-W contends that until such a signed affidavit has been received, the application remains incomplete.

B. Submission of December 21 & 28, 2012 was not a "revised" application, but rather a
new application.
NPU-W disagrees with the Bureau of Planning's designation of this Application. On September 17, 2012, the Applicant submitted Application BL-12-035 to BOP. On November 20, 2012, the BOP denied that Application. NPU-W's view is that was the end of Application BL-12-035. On December 21st and 28th, the same applicant submitted a second application. For reasons that NPU-W does not understand, rather than treat this as a new application, BOP has given it the same designation as the previous application.
Nothing in the Beltline Regulations makes mention of "revised" or "subsequent" applications. Rather, it only refers to the "application." Therefore, NPU-W does not understand from where BOP finds the authority to treat this second application as a revised application.
The lack of logic of this interpretation becomes evident when one considers how this play out over the long term. Under this interpretation an applicant could keep submitting "revised"applications in perpetuity without ever submitting a new application. There would be no end date because under this interpretation an applicant has unlimited time in which to resubmit an application, and can submit an unlimited number of "revised" applications. This is because the Beltline Regulations are devoid of language limiting the number of "revised" applications. Of course, the Regulations are devoid of any language regarding "revised", but once BOP begins allowing such "revised" applications, there is no statutory basis on which to prohibit them. For the foregoing reasons, NPU-W contends that this application is a new application, and not a "revised" application.

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