Noting major city issues during the breakout session were, left to right, Garth Peters, Debra Wathen, Barbara Kennedy, Gordon Certain and Marty Sewell.

Storm water management, balanced development, parks and green spaces, traffic gridlock and better neighborhood connectivity are some of the major concerns voiced by Buckhead civic leaders and neighborhood activists in discussing Atlanta’s 2011 Comprehensive Development Plan update.

Although the group of about 30 who attended the first workshop on the GDP at Trinity Presbyterian Church may have been a small representation in numbers of the 70,000-plus residents of Buckhead, they were not shy about expressing their concerns about or identifying opportunities for the city over the next five to 20 years.

The Feb. 15 session was one of seven held around the city in round one of discussions toward preparing the 2011 CDP update, which is required by the city charter every three to five years and must be completed by Oct. 31.

“What is our identity? That’s what we’re trying to get out of this whole process,” said Garnett Brown of the city Planning Department, who kicked off the two-hour meeting.

More Discussions Planned

A second round of meetings will be held next month. Neighborhood Planning Units A, B, C and D are scheduled to hold their second meeting March 15 at the Atlanta Ballet-Michael C. Carlos Dance Center, 1695 Marietta Blvd. N.W., starting at 6 p.m.

City planner Jessica Lavandier, who is heading up the CDP update project, explained that it covers topics such as economic development, housing, natural resources, historic resources, water supply and treatment, community facilities, solid waste management, transportation and land use. It is planned to be a blueprint for the city’s development.

Those attending the meeting broke into five smaller groups, each with a representative from the city’s Planning Department, to discuss issues and concerns they felt the CDP should address.

For David and Rose Steed, who live on Habersham Way, the major concern is storm water management. They said new development surrounding their home is the cause of major storm water runoff on their property that they had not previously experienced.

The couple fears it is destined to only get worse with continued infill development.However, Rose Steed was very unhappy when told the city is likely to need additional storm water management fees. The city’s fees are already too high, she said, “especially water fees.”

North Buckhead Civic Association President Gordon Certain highlighted concerns about Buckhead’s traffic gridlock.

Certain’s group proposed that contractors who work on city streets be bonded. Certain said streets often need new repairs a short time after work is completed because contractors don’t do the project properly.

“Make the contractors post a bond and if the street does not require additional repair work in five years, they get the bond back.”

Like other speakers, Certain called for more green space in Atlanta. Certain has been active in efforts to increase the number of parks, playgrounds and gathering places in Buckhead’s City Council District 7, which has the least amount in the city.

Even though most of the focus of the breakout groups was on Buckhead issues, Certain’s group also called for the revival of downtown Atlanta as a gathering place for the entire area and a cultural and business center.

NPU-B chairperson Sally Silver, representing her group, called for changes in the zoning code to balance residential, commercial and retail uses.

“We need to look at a way to balance it out so it’s not overbuilt for commercial or residential,” she said.

She also called for higher fees for businesses and nonprofits with large parking lots that contribute an excessive amount of storm water runoff. She said businesses and agencies would be induced to find ways of controlling the storm water before it creates floods.