By Louis Mayeux
After facing a crowd of angry neighbors, a developer has scaled back plans to redevelop the Colonial Homes Apartments.
The revelopment plan for Colonial Homes drew an overflow crowd of angry homeowners to the Neighborhood Planning Unit C’s on March 2.
Carl Westmoreland, attorney for Colonial Homes owner Pope & Land, said March 9 that only one segment of the sprawling apartment complex off Peachtree Road will be proposed for redevelopment, instead of the two tracts originally proposed.
Under the revised plan, to be resubmitted to the Atlanta City Council’s Community Development Committee, a segment adjacent to Peachtree Road will up for redevelopment. A segment between Bennett Street and Colonial Homes Drive, adjacent to the residential Collier Hills North neighborhood, would not be redeveloped and would retain its medium-density zoning.
Westmoreland said that Pope & Land wants the deferred plan to be considered by the Community Development committee at its June meeting. The committee was to have considered the orginal plan at its March 8 meeting, before the decision to change the plan.
Before that, the reconfigured plan must be submitted to NPU-C, which will go through the same process it used in studying the original plan, said Chairman Paul Melvin. The NPU-C overwhelming voted against Colonial Homes owner Pope & Land’s original proposal, which would have increased the number of apartments from 254 to 580 in two of five areas of the apartment complex, which was built in 1947 and is located near Bobby Jones Golf Course in lower Buckhead off Peachtree Road.
Melvin said the revised plan will again be considered by the NPU’s Colonial Homes Task Force and its executive committee and will again go before the entire NPU. He expects to receive the revised plan next week.
Melvin said that under the revised plan, high density zoning will be sought for the tract instead of the very high density zoning originally proposed. The high density designation will conform to the Atlanta BeltLine plan approved by the City Council. Melvin said the number of new apartments to be sought under the new plan had not been determined. Westmoreland also said that details of the new plan had not yet been completed at press time.
Collier Hills and Collier Hills North residents packed the room on the chilly night of a snowy day to speak out against the project, which they said would harm the quiet single-family neighborhoods.
Residents argued the plan would pour traffic onto already congested Dellwood Drive, Colonial Homes Drive, Collier Road, Peachtree Road and other streets. During the discussion, anger and exasperation alternated with eruptions of laughter.
A developer’s representative presented a traffic study showing the added homes would have a minimal impact. Residents vocally disagreed.
“It does make a damn bit of difference,” longtime Dellwood Drive resident Bill Speer cried out to John Walker of Kimley-Horn and Associates, which conducted a the traffic study.
In separate votes conducted by Melvin, the NPU voted down the three aspects of the proposal. One would change the 2008 Comprehensive Development Plan to make the property very high density instead of medium density residential. The second would change the zoning from RG-3 to MR-5A. The third would shift the location of South Colonial Homes Circle.
Westmoreland, Pope & Land’s lawyer, said that the plan would not changes. “The zoning doesn’t specify height,” he said, “but there’s no way it would be over six stories.”
After hearing negative reports by a NPU-C task force and the NPU-C executive committee, the unusually large gathering voted 63-1 to deny the Comprehensive Development Plan and rezoning proposals. The only vote in favor of the redevelopment came from Westmoreland, who was eligible to participate as a resident of the area. The street relocation was denied on 62-2 vote.
NPU-C task force member Roger Moister said in a presentation against the redevelopment, “the number of units can change dramatically” under the rezoning, giving a possible figure of more than 1,600.
Atlanta City Council member Yolanda Adrean of District 8 protested “unless you have conditions – he asked for a cap with conditions.”
Despite the conditions, the redevelopment “still sets a precedent for high density development” adjacent to single-family zoning without a buffer zone, said Roxanne Smith, president-elect of the Peachtree Battle Alliance.