Kevin Parker, an owner of a health-food market located on Peachtree Road, says he’s ready to see some changes to the city’s Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District.
A new building located next door to his business, Nuts n Berries, was built in the past year on the site of a former Shell gas station on the other side of Kendrick Road. The new, 10,000-square-foot building was built according to Overlay District requirements, including fronting near the street with wide sidewalks to promote walkability.
But the new building blocks Nuts n Berries’ business sign for those traveling north on Peachtree Road.
“The new building completely blocks our sign and it has had a significant direct impact on our business over the past year,” Parker said.
The Overlay District sets specific rules for building, parking and streetscape design for new developments along Peachtree Road and Dresden Drive. It was written a decade ago and has accomplished much good, according to TSW consultants, including promoting walkability, open green spaces and design and architecture standards.
“I’m gratified to hear a lot of our objectives and the vision we had has been accomplished,” said Mike Elliot, a member of the Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance that worked on the original Overlay District. “But the code does need to be evaluated and clarified.”
Parker was one of about 30 people who attended the Overlay District rewrite kickoff held May 18 at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. The city contracted this year with the Atlanta-based urban planning firm TSW to rewrite the rules governing the Overlay District, which includes Dresden Drive, the city MARTA station and Peachtree Road to Oglethorpe University. The rewrite is expected to be completed in six months.
Parker, whose business has been located at its spot at 4274 Peachtree Road since 1980, said the Nuts n Berries sign was grandfathered in after the original Overlay District was completed 10 years ago. To bring the sign up to code and place it next to the street, where it can be seen by motorists, is cost-prohibitive right now, he said.
“We’re in a Catch-22 situation,” Parker said.
Parker said the limited parking for the new businesses at The Kendrick building affects his store’s parking as well. A small lot is located behind the new building, where an Orange Theory fitness studio, a nail salon, a Kale Me Crazy health food store and a dentist’s office are tenants. Parker said there are not enough parking spaces —- and the dentist’s office hasn’t opened yet.
The parking situation is affecting his business and the residents who live on Kendrick Road, where customers now park to get to the businesses, he said.
“I understand the intention of the Overlay and I understand there is no immediate solution, but this is the process now and I want to make sure our voice is heard,” he said.
Other residents at the May 18 meeting have raised concerns over the number of apartment complexes and mixed-use development on booming Dresden Drive and their desire to limit density in that area, which abuts residential neighborhoods. They say traffic is encroaching on their suburban lives.
“The traffic in our neighborhood is the same as Peachtree Road,” said Susan Traynor, a Realtor who lives in Historic Brookhaven. “We need to get a grip on what we are doing. You just can’t make the whole world a traffic jam.”