Brookhaven, GA, September 1, 2016 – by Trey Benton – Brookhaven’s Community Development Staff has issued a Staff Report recommending MARTA’s request for rezoning needed to construct a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) at their Brookhaven/Oglethorpe Station, be Approved with a list of extensive Conditions. The Community Development Department also recommends approval of a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) request to exceed the maximum 100′ building height the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District allows by 25 feet.
The City includes in their list of 25 conditions, the project must be developed in general accordance with the site plan and architectural elevations received by the Community Development Department on August 5, 2016. (Embedded below). The Staff says the MARTA TOD project embodies “the implementation of the redevelopment vision that was documented in the 2006 Brookhaven Peachtree LCI study”, as well as the City’s 2034 Comprehensive Plan.
The Staff report goes on to say in reference to their recommendation to approve the requested SLUP, “The proposed increase in the height of a commercial building by approximately 25 percent would likely have a relatively minor impact on the volume of traffic generated by the overall TOD project. However, traffic mitigation projects recommended by GDOT and the City as conditions of approval would help to reduce any adverse effects.”
The Staff Recommended Conditions also require MARTA to make and pay for the identified traffic and infrastructure improvements as described in a Development of Regional Impact Study performed by MARTA. (See full list below)
The 17.76 acres of “underutilized” land MARTA and development partners Brookhaven City Center Partners (BCCP), a master development joint venture of Integral and Transwestern Development Company intends to develop, is bordered by Peachtree Rd, Apple Valley Rd., Dresden Dr. and North Druid Hills Rd. In order to construct the TOD at the densities proposed, MARTA needs to rezone this land to PC-2. Currently the parcels have a mixture of zoning classifications such as C-2, M, R-75 and RM-75.
The multi-phase project is described in the Agenda Packet to include:
- An 8-story, 200,000 square foot office building,
- A 75,000 square foot, 175 room hotel;
- 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.
MARTA and BCCP say they worked with regional transportation stakeholders, including the Atlanta Regional Commission, Georgia Department of Transportation, and City, State and County leaders to address existing traffic problems, infrastructure capacity and other regional issues that could be further impacted by development of the TOD.
Before and after MARTA filed their application for the needed rezonings and SLUP on July 1st, the surrounding community has expressed considerable opposition to the plan. Some of the main concerns are sewer capacity, stormwater runoff, increases in traffic, increases in cut-through traffic, traffic patterns in and out of the proposed TOD.
On-street parking on Apple Valley Rd. is still a topic of concern for area residents. According to Kimley Horn, BCCP’s Traffic Consultant, peripheral streets were 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 planned North Druid Hills Rd. at Peachtree Rd. and Dresden Dr. at Peachtree Rd. improvements.
Nearby neighbors remain concerned motorists driving around looking for parking as well as neighborhood streets becoming preferred routes because of the TOD’s density and lack of sufficient parking once the project is developed.
MARTA maintains 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.
The study Kimley Horn produced shows (Table 6) the Gross Project Trip Generation will produce 10,751 trips per day – 5,376 Entering and 5,376 Exiting. Those trip generation counts were reduced to 7,104, as it is expected some of the number of trips will be lowered because of transit use or reductions because of the nature of a TOD.
Included in MARTA’s rezoning application packet is a Sewer Capacity Letter from DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management. The County says in the letter 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.”
Since the June date of that Sewer Capacity Letter however, there has reportedly been a change in the requirement of 15″ lines to 24″ lines. During a MARTA community meeting this week, BCCP says they are still gathering information on that topic. What did come out of the meeting was that MARTA will have to pay $1.5 million in sewer connection charges and run a new line from the proposed site, all the way to a defined point in the Drew Valley neighborhood.
MARTA indicates in their application filing they will pursue tax incentives in the form of Tax Abatements. Whether those incentives will be ultimately awarded by the DeKalb Development Authority or the City of Brookhaven is not 100% certain, although negotiations are currently underway with the City.
If the City is to award the abatements, City Leaders tell The Post, they would have more control over how those funds are handled. The number being thrown around at this point is between $15 million and $17 million. BCCP says they expect the tax abatements will cover the necessary infrastructure costs.
DeKalb County School District (DCSD) says the proposed MARTA TOD, if approved, would add approximately 49 students to DCSD Schools – 20 at Ashford Park Elementary School, 9 at Chamblee Middle School, 14 at Chamblee High School and 4 students to an unspecified DCSD school.
“While the 23 students to Chamblee MS and Chamblee HS will not put these schools over capacity this Fall,” DCSD notes, “both schools are currently expected to be at or over capacity by August of 2018.”
Brookhaven’s Planning Commission will consider MARTA’s rezoning and SLUP applications on September 7th at 7:00 PM at Brookhaven City Hall located at 4362 Peachtree Rd.
The Full Agenda Packet is here.