UPDATE: Proposal to change Beltline zoning would regulate fence height, require ‘access agreement’ for trail
A proposal to change zoning on the Atlanta Beltline would place new restrictions on private property owners.
The proposal, which is currently being revised, would require people who own property adjacent to the Beltline to have an “access agreement” to the trail. The agreement would be reviewed by the city’s Office of Planning. It would limit fence heights on the trail to 5 feet. It would also forbid property owners from creating private open space and prohibit drive through service windows within 500 feet of the Beltline corridor.
A spokesperson for the Beltline said on Wednesday that the access agreement is not new, even though a fact sheet on the ordinance indicates that it is. She also clarified other parts of the proposed changes.
“The requirement for an access agreement is not a ‘new’ requirement,” the spokesperson said. “It is only new to being added to the overlay district standards document. It has always been the requirement that anyone seeking access to Atlanta BeltLine property to enter into an agreement with ABI. This has been triggered during the permitting phase of projects. We added it to the Overlay so that people would know much earlier in their development process. In fact, we have several access agreements in place around the Atlanta BeltLine corridor. Additionally this requirement applies only to adjacent properties that want to build a direct connection to the Atlanta BeltLine trail from their property.
“The access agreements are not reviewed by the City’s Office Planning in our capacity as the property owner. The fence height requirement is not being ‘limited’ but it is being ‘increased’ from 42 inches (as it is currently stated in the BeltLine Overlay) to 5 feet for residential properties zoned R1 through R5, and RG, that are adjacent to the BeltLine. The increase in fence height is to provide safety and security.”
The proposed changes were on the agenda for the July meeting of Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Unit F, a citizen advisory board for the city. It was deferred until August because of the length of July’s meeting, but the board chair said the the city’s Office of Zoning and Development pulled the proposal from the August NPU meeting. She wasn’t sure why.
It’s unclear whether the changes are being proposed by the city of Atlanta or Atlanta BeltLine Inc, which oversees the Beltline. A statement provided to Atlanta Loop by the city and ABI on Tuesday evening describes it as a collaborative effort. According to a spokesperson, the proposal was pulled from the NPU agenda based on the initial feedback.
“The BeltLine Overlay District Regulations were established in 2007 in order to establish guidelines for anticipated development along the then proposed Beltline,” the statement says. “Over the past 10 years, the city has experienced increased development along the Beltline and within the overall corridor. During the review of these development projects, it has been determined that many areas of the regulations need to be amended to respond to current development trends, allow for greater flexibility and parking-related matters. These technical corrections are a collaboration with the Atlanta BeltLine and City Planning. Preliminary feedback received Neighborhood Planning Units (NPUs) suggest the need for further updates. Additional analysis is being conducted and further amendments will be forthcoming.”
NPU-F provided a summary of the proposed changes and drafts of the proposed ordinances:
Editor’s note: Atlanta Loop reached out to Atlanta Beltline Inc. to answer questions about the proposed changes to the Beltline corridor zoning on Aug. 11. After repeated attempts to get ABI to answer questions, the organization emailed a statement at 8:16 p.m. on Tuesday evening and did not provide an opportunity to ask follow up questions. Atlanta Loop strives for accuracy in its reporting and did so in this case, but ABI also has a responsibility to communicate clearly to the public, which includes the press, and give accurate information in response to questions. We gave ABI ample opportunity to do so prior to the initial publication of this story on Aug. 15. We published a story based on the best information available at the time.