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Rezoning requests denied during contentious NPU-O meeting in Kirkwood

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Rezoning requests denied during contentious NPU-O meeting in Kirkwood

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By Sara Amis, contributor 

The Neighborhood Planning Unit – O on July 23 denied rezoning requests for developments in Edgewood and Kirkwood that were deferred from its June meeting.

Tuesday’s meeting was a contentious one.

Neighborhood Planning Units are advisory boards made up of residents who make recommendations to the Atlanta City Council. In the jurisdiction of NPU-O, which includes Kirkwood, Edgewood, and East Lake, each neighborhood has an organization where decisions are typically discussed first. A resident or developer who seeks rezoning or a zoning variance meets first with a zoning committee, then with the neighborhood organization, then the NPU before seeking approval from the City of Atlanta. The Atlanta City Council makes the final decision.

The NPU rejected an application to rezone 2161 Oakview Road from an R-4 single family residential designation to the PD-H planned housing designation. The rezoning would’ve allowed a five-unit single-family development.

“We did not reach a final agreement on this. They agreed to some changes, but not the important ones that we’ve been fighting for,” said Nazeer Kutty, chair of the zoning committee of Kirkwood Neighbors Organization.

Concerns included a setback from the street relative to neighboring houses and accommodating the buffer zone for the creek that runs behind the property.

“The neighbors were very involved,” Kutty added. “They attended numerous zoning committee meetings and attended the KNO meeting, and they were willing to talk, but they had points that they wanted addressed and those points were not addressed.”

Orion Development — which had two similar rezoning requests for sites on Macklone Street approved in June — sought to rezone 114 Wesley Avenue from the R-5 (two family residential) to MR-MU (multi-family multi-unit).

All three are part of a spate of “missing middle” developments that have followed updates to city of Atlanta zoning ordinances, adopted in January of this year. According to Curbed Atlanta, missing middle housing is defined as housing between single family homes and apartments.

Orion Development attorney Alex Brock said, “This is our eighth meeting between meeting with neighbors and with the zoning committee, and we’ve gone through a number of iterations on the site design. This is the culmination of all of those meetings that we’ve had with neighborhood groups and with immediate neighbors.”

Changes included making the building smaller by making units smaller, moving it back from the street, providing more parking per bedroom, and more landscaping.

“Zoning committee recommended approval with conditions, but ONE [Organized Neighbors of Edgewood] voted to deny,” said ONE zoning committee member Sean Ireland, who attended the meeting. Ireland made a motion for the NPU to approve the request.

Chris Gordon, who lives on the north side of the property, says that his primary concern was the size of the building and the fear that it would permanently shade his house and yard.

Ashley Knotts said, “I’m the other next-door neighbor and we had slightly different concerns. Twenty-four units on half an acre is significant and daunting compared to our tiny one-story house next door. But when I was looking at what the purpose of the MR-MU was, it’s to get higher density into a neighborhood, while representing the character of that neighborhood. I think the purpose of the MR-MU is not met with this design.”

The motion to approve the rezoning application for 114 Wesley Avenue failed in a roll call vote.  Two more MR-MU rezoning requests, for 220 Whitefoord and 170 Mayson, were deferred and will be voted on at a future meeting.

In other business, NPU-O approved the permit for the Kirkwood Wine Stroll and a liquor license for a new restaurant.

Michael Lo will be opening a Korean-Japanese restaurant called Salaryman at the intersection of Hosea Williams and 2nd Ave.

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