Monday, April 15, 2013

How Chick Fil A and the Curb Cut Relate

Much ado many moons ago about DHA and others opposing a Chick Fil A restaurant at a certain site in Dunwoody.  Not many people read deep enough to see the issue was not about opposing a fast-food restaurant, it was about changing the zoning on a property.  To allow the Chick Fil A at the originally requested site meant changing the entire parcel's zoning condition.  The zoning change would have permitted many more things than a Chick Fil A.  "But Chick Fil A will be there forever, it's a non issue" we heard.  Well, believe it or not even Chick Fil A closes stores.  And while waffle fries and chicken sandwiches are the rage today, people who change zoning need to be careful and look long-term and think worst-case scenario.  As time moved by, Chick Fil A found a new home within 200 yards of the other site.  All is well.

Now let's take a look at the proposed curb cut for the Sterling property on Ashford Dunwoody Road.  The truth is that the homeowners east of N Peachtree, north of Mt Vernon, and south of Womack (no need for acronyms) could care less about a curb cut leading into a hotel and white tablecloth steak house.  All Most of are not foolish skilled enough to ride a bike on Ashford Dunwoody Road (sorry Joe) and we all try to avoid the area during peak travel times of 6 AM through 8:15 PM.  The curb cut will increase the stop and go traffic and lures drivers to cut across traffic to do a u-turn.  But hey, it brings jobs and tax revenue and its in the PCID and they are not building apartments, so who among us really cares?

However, the issue is not a curb cut, the issue is conditional zoning and setting a precedent.  Allow the curb cut and establish policy that conditional zoning means nothing, then watch High Street come in and request 3000 apartments and 3000 "condos".  Just so you know, the High Street project by the mall is crawling out of the cobwebs and coming back to life.  Conditional Plans for that site call for 1,500 apartments and 1,500 condos.  But according to some at city hall Conditional zoning/plans are irrelevant.  They mean nothing. These things can be changed with no penalty (actually they can't anywhere else in Georgia, but at least two Dunwoody staffers think can).  So why play the give/take game of zoning and conditions and site plans if your city staff is going to allow changes to agreements?

In summary, by allowing a curb cut for a developer on Ashford Dunwoody Road mayor and council may open the door for High Street and others to modify (at will) agreed upon plans.  Will a curb cut lead to another 1,000 or 2,000 apartments?

The developer wants to build on this site.  They are not walking away because of a curb cut.

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