The Grant Park Neighborhood Association and nearby residents filed an appeal Friday aimed at undoing plans for a proposed 19-acre retail redevelopment that connects to the Atlanta Beltline.
They want to reverse the city planning office’s approval of the plan by Atlanta-based Fuqua Development, which includes several parking lots and a 155,000 square-foot big-box retail store. Opponents are concerned Fuqua may sign Walmart as a future tenant.
“Many, many people in Atlanta are very excited about the Beltline, and the proposed development will set an absolutely horrible precedent,” Lauren Rocereta, Grant Park Neighborhood Association president, said in an email. “We have a lot to do, and we’ll do everything we possibly can to preserve the spirit and intent of the Beltline.”
The appeal is part of a two-track fight against the development. On Thursday, the Atlanta Zoning Review Board approved legislation to change the zoning for the Glenwood Avenue site. If the city council approves, the area will be rezoned from heavy industrial to high-density residential with some commercial, which supporters say is closer to the Beltline’s master plan.
That rezoning would only affect future development plans. However, if the community opponents’ appeal succeeds, Fuqua could be forced to resubmit its plan. And if the zoning change also is approved, the plan would have to be modified, said David Marmins, a lawyer for the neighborhood association.
The appeal hearing is slated for October 10 before the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment.
“We’re for growth, we’re for development in Atlanta, but we’re not in favor of this type of growth,” said Marmins. “Instead of creating a live-work-play environment that would be consistent with Grant Park and Glenwood Park, this would create a huge barrier.”
Concrete supply company Lafarge has owned the contested property for more than a decade. Lafarge will keep fighting the rezoning, said its attorney, Doug Dillard.
“The (rezoning) legislation creates a nonconformity use for our property, which is a taking of a valuable property right,” he said. “It could very well damage us significantly. You can’t retroactively take away somebody’s property rights after they have already been approved.”
The Fuqua development is in basic compliance with Beltline master plan, Dillard said, noting it includes lights, streetscapes, and an extension of the Beltline trail. Fuqua has already obtained a demolotion permit, and is expected to obtain building permit soon.
More than 600 area residents attended the Zoning Board hearing at City Hall in support of the zoning change — the highest turnout in more than 30 years, a city offical managing the crowds said.
“I am pleased with all of the neighbors that came out in support,” said city council member Carla Smith, who sponsored the zoning change. “I have the best people and the best neighborhoods.”
Opponents of the Fuqua plan will continue the fight if the battle moves to court, said Chris Kazakos, a Grant Park resident. “We’ve won the battle, but the war is far from over.”