The Cherokee Town Club on West Paces Ferry Road is attempting to build a parking deck on its property and getting resistance from neighbors who fear it will create a dangerous intersection.
The club said at the Oct. 3 NPU-B meeting that guests are often forced to park on the grass because the current lot, which has 49 spaces, is not large enough. Instead of expanding the parking lot, the club at 155 West Paces Ferry Road hopes to build a parking deck with 209 spaces.
The current lot is at the center of the property and adjacent to West Paces Ferry Road, with two entrances that are about 500 feet east and west of Andrews Court.
The proposed deck would be between the road and the tennis courts, which are on the west side of the property. The entrance would be relocated to the center of the property, directly opposite Andrews Court.
Cherokee’s Buckhead location is a tennis club, while a second location in Sandy Springs has a golf course.
NPU-B recommended the city approve the plan with a 16-2 vote. Two members of the board abstained. The plan will go before the city’s Zoning Review Board Oct. 17.
If the current surface lot was expanded enough to add the same amount of spaces as a deck, the lot would have to be expanded by 2 acres, which would “destroy the character” of the area, said Robert Hughes, a planner for HGOR, the firm designing the deck. The top level of the parking deck would have 112 spaces and the bottom would have 97.
The club plans to locate the parking deck’s entrance directly across West Paces Ferry from Andrews Court. Hughes said the proposed location of the parking deck is the best choice because it is the largest open space on the property, and that lining the entrance up with Andrews Court is the safest option. Off-setting the roads would be less safe, he said.
Residents expressed fear at the meeting that the intersection would cause accidents. While the club has agreed not to request a traffic light at the intersection for 10 years, they say, the city could install one at any time.
“A light would add to traffic congestion, but without a light there will be accidents,” a resident said.
If a light is added, it may cause other lights to be added along West Paces Ferry Road, the resident said.
Buff Quillian, the president of Peachtree Heights West Civic Association, said the organization opposes the proposal. “Not one person in the entire neighborhood has spoken up for this. All I’m saying is we deserve to be heard,” Quillian said.
The lower level of the parking deck would be underground, making the top level the same height as the current parking lot, Hughes said. The deck would not be able to be seen from the street and would be screened by trees, he said.
Residents are also concerned about tree loss. Construction would cause the destruction of 35 trees, but Hughes said they would save larger trees and replant trees. Any plan to expand parking and any location of the parking deck would cause tree loss, he said. A surface lot would likely cost 50 trees, he said.
“There’s no doubt that whatever we do, we will lose trees,” Hughes said.
The proposed location for the deck is between West Paces Ferry Road and the club’s tennis courts. A suggestion at the meeting to build the deck beneath the courts was quickly shot down. Construction would cost at least twice the amount required by the current plan, tennis players would object, and the area beneath the courts is planned to be used to collect stormwater run-off, officials said.
In addition to adding a condition that the club would not ask for a traffic light for 10 years, it also would create a 20-year master plan before applying for another permit.
Robin Fowler is restoring a historic mansion designed by Philip Trammell Shutze adjacent to club. He objects to the proposal because the parking deck would be directly beside his back yard, he said at the meeting.
He is hoping to have the club lease 0.2 acres to him so he and his family can use that space as a buffer. He said that would provide compromise with the club over building the deck. “It’s all a downside for me, but I want to try to make it work out,” he said.
Officials with the club said they are negotiating with Fowler on a lease.