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Monday, September 2, 2013

Glenwood Avenue rezoning proposal heads to City Council tomorrow for final vote

The future of a controversial suburban-style retail development along the Atlanta Beltline could face its most pivotal battle tomorrow.

The Atlanta City Council is scheduled to discuss a proposal to rezone 800 and 860 Glenwood Avenue, where a defunct cement factory currently exists. If passed, the ordinance could effectively halt veteran Atlanta developer Jeff Fuqua's plans to build a giant retail complex, which would include a 143,000 square-foot anchor tenant that's rumored to be a Walmart.

Many nearby residents and advocates in Grant Park, Ormewood Park, and other southeast Atlanta communities think that Fuqua's plans run contrary to the denser and more walkable kinds of development they want to surround the smart-growth project.

"That vision is at risk," Collen Kiernan, the Sierra Club's Georgia Chapter Director, said in an recent email statement. "Although detailed, community-supported plans have been prepared for transit-oriented development along the Beltline corridor, the zoning has not yet been updated to reflect this, and a suburban-style Wal-mart is now proposed for a key parcel along the Southeast section of the Beltline on Glenwood Avenue."

Last week, the two pieces of legislation that could proactively rezone the site moved one step closer toward gaining Council's approval. Both measures, proposed by Councilwoman Carla Smith, have spent several months moving through the legislative process. Council's Zoning Committee approved one proposal 3 to 2 on Wednesday (Councilmembers Smith, Alex Wan, and Keisha Lance Bottoms voted yes; Joyce Sheperd and Ivory Young voted no). The favorable decision came despite the fact that a recent Zoning Review Board recommendation in favor of the ordinance was tossed out on a voting technicality.

Should the legislation pass, LaFarge, the cement factory's current owner, may follow through on prior threats to take legal action against the city. Fuqua says he plans to continue moving forward with the project until someone forces his company to stop.

Tuesday's decision coulld be a decisive moment for the Glenwood Park project's future. People who are planning attend Council's meeting should get there early. It'll likely be packed to the brim as both the Grant Park Neighborhood Association and South Atlantans for Neighborhood Development are rallying their supporters for one last showing. Things should get interesting.

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