Archives for June 2012

Kroger Variances Approved

The DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved Kroger’s variance requests on June 13, thereby clearing the way for Kroger to build an $8 million dollar addition to their Cherokee Plaza store.

The BPCA argued that Kroger or Weingarten (Cherokee Plaza owner/manager) should install an Overlay-compliant sidewalk and streetscape along Peachtree as part of their expansion.  Unfortunately, DeKalb County Planning Department termed the expansion a “renovation of existing building” and did not require full site compliance.  Thus, while the ZBA was sympathetic to BPCA’s goals, it decided it did not have the authority to require Kroger to install that which the Planning Dept. was not requiring.

Kroger has agreed to provide a clear and safe pedestrian path from Peachtree through the parking lot, as well as improve pedestrian access from Colonial.  In addition, they will plant 40 trees in the parking lot.

After the ZBA hearing, Kroger representatives told BPCA privately that they would consider ways to improve the pedestrian experience along Peachtree.  They said they would get back to us wit specifics in 2 weeks.

Chase Variances Denied!

The DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted on June 13 to deny Chase Bank’s requests for variances so they could build a new branch bank on a portion of the Hastings site.  This is a major win for our Overlay Zoning District and, ultimately, the community’s LCI vision.

The ZBA agreed with the BPCA’s argument, as expertly put forward by attorney Linda Dunlavy, that the owner of the property, SDS Properties Ltd., created its own hardship and possesses the means to remove that hardship.  The “hardship” in question is the exit easement in favor of Goodyear/Kauffman Tire that runs the length of the site parallel to Peachtree.  This easement keeps Chase from locating a building close to Peachtree in the building/sidewalk/street relationship called for in the Overlay District.

SDS created the easement in 1994 and cannot change it without Goodyear/Kauffman’s consent.  However, SDS can terminate its lease with Goodyear/Kauffman by giving 24 months notice and accepting reduced rent for the 24 month period.  Then SDS can install an exit/entry system that serves its site and complies with the Overlay.  Therefore, SDS has an available remedy to the hardship it created.

This decision by the ZBA sends a strong message to property owners and would-be developers along Peachtree that they must market and design their sites in accord with Overlay requirements.  To date, the approach has been to design the site to the car-specific specs of national retailers, then seek variances from Overlay zoning so they can get a development/building permit.