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DeKalb commissioners approves zoning change for apartment expansion on North Druid Hills Road

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DeKalb commissioners approves zoning change for apartment expansion on North Druid Hills Road

Kenco Residential is planning to expand its Kenco Lavista apartment complex onto the property at 2784 N. Druid Hills Road to build 24 new units. Photo is from the DeKalb County website.

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved zoning changes for the properties located at 2784 and 2790 N. Druid Hills Road near the Toco Hills shopping center.

The owners of Kenco Residential will expand the Kenco Lavista apartment complex to add a three-story building with 21 new multifamily apartments — a decrease from the original 24 units that were proposed.

The existing apartments are considered workforce housing and the residents usually have an income that is 40-80% of the average median income, said Clayton Edwards, CEO of Kenco Residential, at the Oct. 26 meeting. The proposed expansion would continue to operate as workforce housing.

The board amended the future land use map from suburban to town center and changed the zoning designation from R-100 to MR-2, medium density residential, to allow for the construction of the new apartment building.

The subject properties along North Druid Hills Road have two vacant single-family homes. Kenco Residential will extend the apartment complex into the activity center, so the two subject properties will now have the town center designation. Kenco Residential presented their proposal at the Oct. 26 County Commission meeting, and the board deferred the item to a future meeting.

Since then, the county staff has worked with the developer and community to review the plan and set appropriate conditions to mitigate some potential impacts of the redevelopment on the neighborhood.

“To accomplish this project, the applicant is seeking to have these properties incorporated within the activity center and reinforce this boundary, the perimeter of the activity center between the residential uses to the north and some of the commercial activity that you’ll find to the south,” DeKalb County Planning Manager Brandon White said.

Kenco Residential will also install an eight-foot fence, and plant and retain existing vegetation along the buffer between the apartment complex and the residential neighborhood.

The developer originally proposed a 50-foot buffer that would taper down to about 30 feet to connect the properties to the existing apartment complex. That buffer will now be about 57 feet closer to North Druid Hills Road and will taper down to 30 feet to accommodate the additional driveway and parking for the new building.

The Board of Commissioners approved the future land use request and rezoning with 28 conditions, which include restricting access to the property on North Druid Hills for emergency vehicles only; installing a decorative gate that will serve a public art piece; establishing a multiuse trail along North Druid Hills Road; and addressing stormwater runoff.

According to the conditions, post-construction stormwater runoff cannot be more than what it was before the construction. The hydrology model for the site will also work to reduce the stormwater runoff rates.

Additionally, Kenco Residential will present a stormwater management plan for the site to the North Druid Hills Residents’ Association. The NDHRA will have two weeks to review the plan and provide comments. After the review, and before a land disturbance permit is issued, Kenco Residential will submit the stormwater management plan to the county for review and approval.

Other aspects of the project include improving the streetscape along North Druid Hills near the subject property. They will also work with MARTA to enhance the bus stops on North Druid Hills and Lavista Roads.

“Additionally, the proposal will include internal recreation, an additional density bonus they’re privy to as an amenity bonus by being within a certain distance to shopping, a grocery store, so they get a 20% density bonus provision there as well,” White said at the Oct. 26 meeting.

Kenco Residential is planning to expand the Lavista apartment complex to build a three-story building that would have 24 units. Photo is from the DeKalb County website.

The main concern from the neighborhood has been related to stormwater and how the apartment complex will handle stormwater runoff.

“Everything that is being captured at the commercial site is being discharged directly onto these properties. It ultimately flows behind the 1353 Fama Drive home,” said Chad Lambeth, project manager at Planners and Engineers Collaborative, the engineer for the project. “What we’re offering is ultimately we will be capturing that water from the existing Kenco Lavista apartments. There’s a lot of un-detained water there, as well as the commercial that we’re looking to capture and route into our system.”

The Board of Commissioners granted a 30-day deferral on Sept. 30, but some residents had not resolved all their issues with Kenco Residential, said Alan Pinsker, a representative of the North Druid Hills Residents Association and the HRA.

PEC’s stormwater plan would meet the county’s requirements to capture and release stormwater at a reduced rate with excess holding capacity. It proposes to release the stormwater through homeowners’ backyards, which will eventually flow down Fama Drive to Fern Creek.

“We want PEC to explore and present alternative solutions for the stormwater outflow, preferably toward Fern Creek or Lavista Road, rather than its current path,” Pinsker said. “As part of that effort, we want to have more precise calculations done to determine anticipated stormwater volumes from impervious surfaces on the site, which PEC has indicated will increase from about 10.7% now to 52.4% with their project.”

Some concerns had been raised about the height of the building, but Doug Linneman, president of Kenco Residential, said a two-story building wouldn’t fit on the property due to the shape of the site and the constraints.

“We’ve pushed the building as far away from the two single-family homes as possible. It’s right up against the property line of the office building next door,” Linneman previously said. “The neighborhood also has expressed that they don’t necessarily want to see our building from North Druid Hills, so we currently have the building pushed to the maximum setback of about 37 feet from the curb.”

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