Brookhaven, GA, July 26, 2016 – by Trey Benton – MARTA has an initiative to develop the under utilized parking areas around a number of their Transit Stations to “increase ridership and maximize access to transit.” The Brookhaven/Oglethorpe station is one of those, and MARTA filed a rezoning application with City of Brookhaven’s Community Development Department on July 1st in connection to a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) they want to build there.
On Monday, MARTA and development partner Brookhaven City Center Partners (BCCP), a joint venture of Integral and Transwestern, hosted a community meeting ahead of Brookhaven’s Planning Commission contemplating the application in September.
A crowd of approximately 100 residents filled the Trustee Room in Oglethorpe’s new Turner Lynch Campus Center, to learn about the project and to reinforce their concerns. While there was not an appreciable amount of new information for those who had attended previous meetings, several new faces were in the crowd and took-in the presentation, and participated in the Q&A.
Amanda Rhein, MARTA’s Senior Head of Transit Oriented Development, explained what they were presenting was the product of several community meetings where they received feedback from the community and made plan revisions. “We’ve been working over the past 10 months to get to the point where we are today,” said Rhein.
Attorney for the developer, Jessica Hill of Morris, Manning and Martin, when walking through the Zoning section of Monday’s presentation explained the reason rezoning is necessary for the project is because while the underlying zoning allows MARTA the square footage and the uses they want, everything is inside the Brookhaven Peachtree Overlay. “While all of that is allowed under the current zoning, the placement of these buildings on the property is not allowed under the current zoning,” Hill said.
Specifically, Hill said, in the area where Apple Valley Rd. meets Dresden Dr., the Overlay would allow an office building or a commercial use, although it does not allow a residential use that MARTA is proposing. She said the reason MARTA and their planners have oriented the development the way they have is to concentrate the majority of the density closest to Peachtree Rd., away from the abutting neighborhoods, transitioning down from Dresden Dr., along Apple Valley Rd. towards N. Druid Hills Rd.
In addition to the rezoning, MARTA says they will ask for a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) in the northern corner of the project at Peachtree and Dresden to allow for an additional 25ft. in building height for the office building. Currently, Hill said, the Overlay caps the building height at 8-stories and 100 ft. They are seeking to build at 125 ft. To develop the 17.57 acres included in the current plan, MARTA needs to rezone to PC-2. Currently the parcels have a mixture of zoning classifications such as C-2, M, R-75 and RM-75.
Rob Ross, Project Manager with Kimley-Horn who is working on the traffic planning for the TOD, said he feels as though the traffic plan they have come up with is about all they can do given constraints train bridges and state roadways present. The plan is to reconfigure two intersections – North Druid Hills at Peachtree Rd and Dresden Dr. at Peachtree Rd. – which includes narrowing lanes, thus creating more lanes to provide needed relief. (Traffic Analysis Embedded Below)
The plan adds an additional left turn lane Eastbound on Brookhaven drive and re-striping along Dresden Drive to add another Westbound lane underneath the MARTA and railroad tracks approaching Peachtree Road. Ross said the concept would add two turn lanes from Dresden Dr. to Peachtree Road as well as provide for three thru-lanes on Northbound Peachtree Rd.
On North Druid Hills, improvements would be made to allow more stacking for traffic that intends to cross Peachtree Rd. or going straight across to Brookhaven Plaza. The existing two right-hand turn lanes would remain for traffic headed North on Peachtree Rd. Both the Dresden Drive and North Druid Hills Road plans are part of their 2019 vision.
But when questions began coming in from the audience on what the actual traffic count numbers were, no one on the development team was able to provide any at a moments notice. Residents said those counts where extremely important to them and they need to be included in the presentation because cut-through traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as being able to qualify and quantify the “before’s and after’s” should be better discussed.
On-street parking on Apple Valley Rd. is still a topic of concern for area residents. Ross said peripheral streets have been included in their traffic study because once improvements are made to the main roads, the cut through traffic coming back on to the main roads could counteract the North Druid Hills Rd. at Peachtree Rd. and Dresden Dr. at Peachtree Rd. improvements. Additional concerns include motorists driving around looking for parking as well as neighborhood streets becoming preferred routes because of the TOD’s density.
MARTA maintained that the nature of TOD’s is to try to get people living in and around transit so they drive less and produce a lower impact on surrounding streets. Comments from the crowd said that people in Atlanta choose to drive in their cars and are skeptical the reduction in traffic would be appreciable, and argued it will be even worse than it is today.
Included in the rezoning application packet MARTA filed, there is a Transportation Analysis Study enclosed. The study (Table 6) shows the Gross Project Trip Generation will produce 10,751 trips per day – 5,376 Entering and 5,376 Exiting. The chart shows estimated trip generation numbers and reduced trip generation numbers, as it is expected some of the trip counts will be lowered because of transit use or reductions because of the nature of a TOD.
During Monday’s meeting, questions came in from the audience on how developers plan on dealing with Stormwater. Casey Warfield, also with Kimley-Horn and a Brookhaven resident said, “Hopefully, at the end of the day, if I do my job, you won’t know I was there and everything works great. That’s the plan.” He said all stormwater management on the site will be brought to current code including a new channel protection and water quality requirements. He said the intent is to integrate the existing MARTA pond into the existing Fernwood Park Master Plan.
Included in MARTA’s rezoning application packet is a Sewer Capacity Letter from DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management (Embedded Below). The County says that based on collected flow data, “sanitary sewer capacity may be available for the subject property at this time.” However, the County notes the determination of available capacity expressed is not guaranteed because it is “based upon the known conditions as of the date of this correspondence and on the provided anticipated capacity needs associated with the project.”
The County further states in the event sewer system infrastructure improvements are required to accommodate the “new flow contribution and ensure adequate sewer system capacity as a result of development on the referenced property, the developer will be responsible for the cost associated with installing any such improvements to the existing sewer system infrastructure.”
Security concerns were also expressed during Monday’s meeting and whose responsibility that is. Rhein said all security on MARTA property would be provided by MARTA Police, as well as any additional security the provided as part of the developments. She said off their site, Brookhaven Police would provide security as they normally do.
MARTA says they are also talking with City Officials regarding tax incentives for the project. The project plan indicates the development will include:
- An 8 story office building including 200,000 square feet,
- A hotel with 75,000 square feet (125 keys);
- Two for rent multifamily buildings aggregating 340 units;
- Two for sale multifamily buildings aggregating 107 units;
- One senior housing building with 100 units; and
- Retail and restaurant uses aggregating 55,768 square feet.
Much more in the video attached to this article, including survey counts, a conversation about greenspace and the rationale behind Planning.
The application is scheduled to be heard by Brookhaven’s Planning Commission September 7th. Specifics and agendas can be found here once they are posted.
MARTA’s full application, Letter of Intent and Site Plan can be found on the City’s website here.
The latest revised project plan is below.