23 Aug 2014
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Townhome Development Splits North Buckhead Neighborhoods

Supporters, opponents clash over plan for 13 units at Phipps Boulevard, Longleaf Drive

Townhome Development Splits North Buckhead Neighborhoods Townhome Development Splits North Buckhead Neighborhoods Townhome Development Splits North Buckhead Neighborhoods Townhome Development Splits North Buckhead Neighborhoods Townhome Development Splits North Buckhead Neighborhoods Townhome Development Splits North Buckhead Neighborhoods Townhome Development Splits North Buckhead Neighborhoods

Editor's Note: Carl Vasallo, owner of a home on 585 Mountain Way, told Buckhead Patch that he lives there. Buckhead Patch in the following article wrongly called the house abandoned.

A plan for 13 townhomes at Longleaf Drive and Phipps Boulevard is dividing nearby North Buckhead neighborhoods.

The North Buckhead Civic Association's Land Use and Zoning Committee Monday night took up for the third time developer R. Winston Smith's proposal to change the zoning for the .83-acre parcel from R-3 residential to M-R-4B multifamily residential for the development.

A standing-room-only crowd filled a room at for the contentious meeting, with residents of the adjacent Longleaf subdivision vehemently opposing the plan, and others from close-by neighborhoods strongly supporting it. A call for shows of hands from the two groups showed roughly an even split.

Along with the divided crowd, the zoning committee was unable to come up with a recommendation on approving or disapproving the zoning change, splitting on a 4-4 vote. The vote came on council member Doug Crawford's motion for a recommendation in favor of the proposal, on condition that a traffic entrance onto Phipps Boulevard be removed. Attorney Doug Dillard, representing Smith, said the developer would remove the Phipps entrance, or perhaps make it a right turn only.

Crawford, who said he generally supported the proposal although he thinks it's a bit large for the site, said "the traffic cut on Phpps is one of the worst things I've seen in a long time." Adding to traffic on Phipps from and the 3, the development would result in a "horrible mess on Phipps."

Trey Baltz, an engineer for the development, said after the discussion that he would be willing to coduct a traffic study for the area. "A  traffic study is very, very easy," he said.

Dillard said a change in the proposal would make the multi-residential rezoning apply just to the site. The zoning would revert back to R-3 if the townhomes are not developed, he said. Neighborhoods were concerned that the rezoning would be a precedent for similar developments in the area. Committee member Bob Young said of the rezoning "that is a tremendous shift," after which Dillard said the rezoning would just apply to the development.

Residents opposing the development raised concerns over increased traffic on the already congested Longleaf Drive. Resident John Gregory said "all hours of the day, there's traffic going up and down Longleaf," which he called a favorite cut-through street for shoppers going to Phipps. The development's underground parking garage would have 39 spaces, whose cars would exit onto Longleaf.

Those in favor of the development said it would be a better alternative for the neighborhoods than another high-rise condominium unit in the area. Several high-rise residential towers stand on Phipps Boulevard, close to Lenox Road.

Dillard, Smith and architect Ryan Duffey said the townhome development will have two-story homes above the underground parking garage. The plan also envisions a rooftop commons area. They said the townhomes would provide a transitional buffer between the single-family residential Longleaf neighborhood and the high-rise units.

Other concerns raised by those in oppostion is that the development is too large for the site, although Dillard said it is of a smaller density that what is allowed under the city's Comprehensive Development Plan.

Now the development will return to the NPU-B's zoning committee, where it has been deferred previously.

What do you think of the townhome plan for Phipps and Longleaf? Tell us in comments.

The committee also heard North Buckhead residenrt Carl Vasallo's proposal to subdivide a lot at 585 Mountain Way into two parcels for reconstruction of an existing structure and construction of a new home.

Vasallo has sought to redeveop the property for several years, with neighborhood opposition. He told the group that the subdivision plan meets all city regulations. NPU-B Chairperson Sally Silver, who attended the meeting, said that the project still must be approved by the city's Subdivision Review Commission.

Young raised concerns over Vasallo's plans to place a home on a "mountain" on the property, citing a stalled housing development at the corner of Mountain Way and Ivy Road where a wooded high rise area was cut into, leaving an unsightly view.

Young also called an abandoned, deteriorating structure on the 585 Mountain Way site an "eyesore." Vasallo plans to use the structure as the foundation for a home, in which he said he plans to live.

Concerns were raised over the property's flooding, alhtough Vasallo said it is not officially a flood plain. Residents said the lot frequently floods. Vasallo said he plans to raise the structures above flood levels.

Another concern was the proposal for both homes to share a common driveway.

North Buckhead Civic Association President Gordon Certain, ex-officio committee member, said Vasallo's survey documents showed a 20-foot discrepancy from earlier documents. Certain said documents dating back to the 1950s showed the lot's back border at 112 feet, while the latest survey showed it as 134 feet. He said that the narrower width could not support Vasallo's plan for the second house.

Dillard, also representing Vasallo, said that a new survey would be done to clarify the discrepancy.

Silver said the committee was not allowed to recommend approval or disapproval of the plan, but could send its comments to the Subdivision Review Commission.




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