800 Glenwood Update | Many Questions Answered

Important Meeting on October 10, 2013

Dear Neighbors,

An important 800 Glenwood event is upon us, and your presence is crucial. Please attend the October 10 Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) meeting to show your support of the neighborhoods’ and NPU-W’s responses to the developer’s Special Administrative Permits (SAPs). At this meeting a lawyer retained by GPNA and SAND will appeal the developer’s SAP approved by the City Planning Office on July 12, 2013. Winning this appeal means the SAP will be null and void. This effectively means the developer will need to start over under the new zoning we successfully put in place as a result of all the August and September meetings we requested your presence at.

A large crowd is VERY important! We know it's during the day. Do what you can and please attend:

Board of Zoning Adjustment Meeting (BZA)
October 10, 2013, 12:00PM (noon)
Council Chambers
55 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30303

We're aiming to break the record set on August 8th when 600+ people were in attendance at the Zoning Review Board (ZRB) meeting. 
There will be no audience comments, so this makes your attendance more important than ever to show our support.

Please donate to the lawyer fund. $25,000 more dollars needs to be raised. Any money not needed will go towards art on the BeltLine in Southeast Atlanta. Please go to www.smartgrowthatlanta.org, scroll down to the green “Donate Now” button and give what you can.

This has been very confusing for many people, and we’ve had a lot of questions asked. In the rest of this email we’ll attempt to answer some of your questions.


Why the rezoning? Why now and not earlier? Why didn’t the rezoning stop the development?

In our opinion rezoning was never necessary because this is addressed in the City Code of Ordinances (basically the laws for the city). Since there is a law which states BeltLine Regulations will trump existing zoning it is logical to think rezoning isn’t necessary. This is why there has been no proactive rezoning along the BeltLine until now. No one expected this type of development to ever be submitted, much less approved by the City Planning Department, along the BeltLine.

To read the law, search “16-36.001” at the City Code of Ordinances Website. Click on “Chapter 36. Beltline Overly District Regulations, Georgia Code of Ordinances” and read paragraph 1. It may take several rereads for it to start to make sense.

This law is at the heart of our appeal, and it is our premise that the City Code of Ordinances is THE LAW! The developer’s lawyers say the law is a guideline or aspiration. We’ll say it again… we say it’s a law! We read the law as presenting a blue print for developers to develop the type of mixed-use development most people envision along the BeltLine. Most of us are eager to see the BeltLine vision realized as quickly as possible so we can enjoy it and experience the economic benefits that will follow. 

The BeltLine Master Plans have zoning classifications laid out for each sub-area in the Beltline Overlay which are the culmination of hundreds of thousands of hours of work done by Atlanta BeltLine Inc., their consultants, and citizens. These Master Plans were adopted into the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) for the City of Atlanta (which is the blue print for how We The People want Atlanta to develop over the next 30 years). This is where all zonings are recorded and have the force of law. Due to the BeltLine being a railroad corridor, largely serving industrial uses, clearly there is Industrial zoning all along the BeltLine that is in conflict with the BeltLine plans. If developers have to go through the arduous process of rezoning before building, they may think twice about it. Hence the “Blue Print law” (16-36.001)! To paraphrase, "The BeltLine Plan Zoning supersedes the underlying zoning, so build urban development with these classifications now!"

Shortly prior to the development we are fighting was approved, our neighbors asked us to have an official position on 800 Glenwood and fight. As a result we asked District 1 Representative, Carla Smith, to submit legislation to rezone the property. In parallel, Atlanta BeltLine has also undertaken their proactive rezoning efforts. This was also the point at which GPNA and SAND’s parallel tracks emerged:

  • Track 1: Rezone the property so it can erase any shadow of a doubt of what type of development should be built at 800 Glenwood (no more interpreting 16-36.001). This does not stop the current approved SAP because it is grandfathered in since it was applied for under the existing use zoning, without taking into consideration the law (16-36.001), prior to our rezoning.
  • Track 2: Appeal the approved SAP to make it null and void, effectively making the developer start over under the new zoning.

Will the City get sued?
Yes, as a matter of fact the City of Atlanta was sued yesterday
 (http://bit.ly/1bwLQil). That is going to be an unfortunate part of the process. This is the only avenue at our disposal right now, and we’re not willing to accept this development as-is. Neutrality is not an option, and we won’t idly sit by hoping for what we want. In the absence of the developer working with the communities despite our efforts, and in the absence of the property owner not pursuing their own rezoning, suing the City would have been the result of our efforts regardless of when the rezoning occurred. When the law was disregarded by the City Planning Office, we responded in full force.

Would we meet with the developer and try to find compromise?
Of course! GPNA and NPU-W tried several times in 2012. There is always room for coming together and working out a compromise. We welcome it and have a history of successes working with developers!

Did you know District 1 Representative Carla Smith’s campaign received money from Sembler (Fuqua’s past employer) in 2004?
Yes. It is public knowledge. Carla Smith and all Council Members’ campaigns receive money from people and businesses all the time without asking for it. Sembler and Fuqua have been developing properties in Atlanta for decades. Giving to campaigns is what people and businesses do, and that includes developers. Most Council Members' campaigns received money from Sembler in 2004, and some recently received money. Despite the campaign contributions from Sembler and/or Fuqua the majority of Council Members supported Carla Smith’s rezoning legislation. Council Members often make decisions that conflict with what campaign contributors want. The Council Members work for us, and throughout this process most of them have shown they clearly understand that and are listening to a very large constituency banding together as it relates to 800 Glenwood. Every step of the way Carla Smith has worked hard for us and we would expect the same from any elected official who represents our constituency.

Is this about stopping Walmart?
No. The rezoning effort and the Special Administrative Permit (SAP) appeal are not about a particular tenant, but rather about realizing the vision and spirit of the Atlanta BeltLine. That means supporting the BeltLine Master Plan and the intent for 800 Glenwood of transit oriented, higher density, mixed-use development. The SAP we are appealing flies in the face of what the Atlanta BeltLine was intended to be and what we have all worked so hard for over the past 10 years to bring to fruition. Our efforts are only directed towards stopping development that is contrary to the BeltLine Master Plan.

We really need you next week on October 10. The local news outlets will be there, and they need to see people from all over Atlanta filling up City Hall and breaking records again for this story to get the much needed attention it deserves.

This is THE fight that sets a precedent for the rest of the BeltLine, and it is going to take YOU being there!

This is OUR BeltLine. Show developers we mean business! Be there. Make history.

Thank you,
Lauren Rocereta, President of GPNA
Ana Allain, President of SAND
Rick Hudson, Land Use and Zoning Chair of GPNA


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