By Katie Fallon
katiefallon@reporternewspapers.net

Despite a majority of objections from residents, the City Council has approved a two-story parking deck for an existing Glenridge Drive business.

The move came in a three to one vote, which was a lower vote ratio than normal due to the absence of District 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny.

The site plan includes the deck being built at 5416 and 5424 Glenridge Drive, which already contains applicant Alpha 7 LLC’s two office buildings. The property, which is located about 780 feet from the Roswell Road intersection, is bordered by the Glenridge Drive post office to the west, an oncology office to the east on Glenridge Drive, single family homes on Tall Oaks Drive to the north and the Willow Glen townhomes to the south.

Alpha 7 was actually seeking a three-story parking deck, as well as a number of modifications and concurrent variances regarding buffers, setbacks and landscaping strips. City staff recommended conditional approval.

At three stories, the deck would have included 75 parking spaces, but at just two stories, it will only include 50 spaces.

Several residents spoke in opposition to the project at any level and cited as justification the city’s recent land use votes in its Comprehensive Plan process. Those designations, however, are not legal yet and cannot be considered in rezoning applications until the state approves the Comprehensive Plan.

“It’s my position, and it’s very clear in the land use plan, that you cannot allow the parking deck and uphold the spirit and integrity of the land use plan,” said resident Bob Beavers. “I don’t see why we would have a land use plan if we don’t stick to it.”

Furthermore, resident Patty Sullivan said she worried about the effect the parking deck would have on her neighborhood.

“We’re just concerned about the encroachment into our neighborhood to allow a parking deck to be built along the property line of the neighborhood.”

Both Councilwomen Dianne Fries and Ashley Jenkins, however, noted the neighbors would barely be able to see the parking deck.

“I don’t see an issue with this from a visibility aspect,” Fries said. “I don’t think that with the way the design is and so much of it being under ground, that it’s going to be visible to anybody.”

Jenkins agreed.

“You can barely see the buildings now,” Jenkins said. “When you put in a two-story underground parking deck, you’re not going to see it. Eighty percent of this parking deck is going to be underground. The rest is going to be grade level.”

Jenkins also noted that the residents of Tall Oaks Drive, which borders the northern portion of the property, could not claim the parking deck would drive down their property values because at the beginning of their street is a five story apartment complex surrounded by a wooden fence.

“I don’t understand how, if this is pushed back 200 feet from Tall Oaks [Drive], it’s going to impact the value of the properties at all,” Jenkins said. “It’s going to be hidden. It’s going to be well-screened.”

District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio was the lone dissenting vote on the parking deck. Acting as mayor pro-tem for the evening while Mayor Eva Galambos recovered from a bout with laryngitis, DeJulio appealed to his fellow council members by putting himself in the shoes of the residents in opposition.

DeJulio himself has a four-story parking deck behind his home off High Point Road.

“I have very mixed feelings about this particular project,” DeJulio said.

Although he voted in opposition to the deck, DeJulio said he was glad to see Alpha 7 would provide screening with the deck because the structure behind his home streams light into his property during the winter. Representative Pete Hendricks noted the company would provide lattice work and ivy in the gaps between the deck’s levels.

Marco Rebuffi, president of Alpha 7, recognized that he had painted himself into a corner by wanting to bring his company’s world headquarters to the Glenridge Drive location, where he knew parking would be a problem.

When Alpha 7 first zoned the property where its two office buildings are located, Fulton County stipulated that it could not build a parking deck on the property.

On May 22, the city’s Design Review Board unanimously approved the parking deck plan with the stipulations that Alpha 7 remove the existing residences it owns on two Tall Oaks Drive parcels. The board wanted the land dedicated as open space as a public park until a time when Tall Oaks Drive’s subdivision is rezoned or reconfigured.