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Six-month moratorium on development near Westside Park to be approved March 2

David Pendered
westside park, edit Atlanta's future Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry is adding to the gold-rush mentality that has land speculators and developers crowding into the area. Atlanta is poised to implement a 180-day moratorium to devise controls that are to regulate housing prices and mobility. Credit: Atlanta Parks & Recreation via parkatbellwoodquarry.com

By David Pendered

The Atlanta City Council is on track to establish a six-month moratorium for most new development in the gold-rush neighborhoods around the city’s future Westside Park. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms initiated the moratorium on Feb. 17.

westside park, edit

Atlanta’s future Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry is adding to the gold-rush mentality that has land speculators and developers crowding into the area. Atlanta is poised to implement a 180-day moratorium to devise controls that are to regulate housing prices and mobility. Credit: Atlanta Parks & Recreation via parkatbellwoodquarry.com

“This is historic,” Charletta Wilson Jacks told the Zoning Committee, which approved the measure Wednesday morning. Jacks serves as the mayor’s senior governmental affairs advisor, and has 16 years of previous service as a top administrator in the city’s Planning Department.

The council is slated to adopt the moratorium at its meeting March 2. The 180-day moratorium is to begin the day the mayor signs the legislation, or it otherwise becomes effective.

The purposed of the cooling off period is to provide time for the city to devise measures to regulate issues including housing costs and mobility in the area. Several city departments are to work on measures that are to be presented to the council for its consideration.

Bottoms implemented a moratorium through an executive order issued Feb. 17. The mayor’s order is effective only through the date of the next council meeting, which is March 2. The moratorium is to lapse if the council does not extend it.

The moratorium covers most new development. The current version does not apply to:

  • Projects already in the permitting and development pipeline;
  • Residential construction that is priced as affordable housing, to include for-sale and for-rent dwellings;
  • Future grocery stores;
  • Improvements to owner-occupied residences.

The council’s approval on March 2 is expected because two council committees have adopted the measure by unanimous vote – on Wednesday morning by the Zoning Committee; and Tuesday, Tby the Community Development Committee. These unanimous votes place the item on a part of the council’s agenda where all the legislation listed therein is approved by a single vote.

The legislation to be considered by the council includes this substitute and this amendment.

The purpose of the moratorium is to provide a cooling off period in the Westside. The goal is to use the time to devise a series of proposals to manage the consequences of the region’s fast pace of residential development. Housing costs and mobility are specific concerns cited in the legislation.

Atlanta is poised to enact a 180-day ban on most new construction in the city’s Westside neighborhoods, where speculators have been purchasing land and houses. File/Credit: David Pendered (2018)

The legislation cites a series of desired outcomes:

  • “[A]n Equitable Development Framework and a comprehensive community engagement strategy for the Westside Park and other Beltline parks in the immediate impact area; align activities in the One Atlanta Housing Affordability Action Plan, develop a Westside Park Transportation Plan in alignment with the One Atlanta Strategic Transportation plan, and identify City or other public agency-controlled land located in the immediate impact Area….”

The city itself has added to the gold rush that’s been underway for years in neighborhoods near the future Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry. The city bought the site of a former quarry nearly 20 years ago, during the term of then Mayor Shirley Franklin.

The city’s website for the park highlights the development expected around the park:

  • “The anticipated Spring 2020 opening of the $26.5 million Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry will change the surrounding landscape far beyond just becoming the largest greenspace in the city.
  • “It will also serve as a catalyst for Westside neighborhoods and become the home of a critical backup source of drinking water for the entire city.
  • “Upon completion, the park will encompass a total of approximately 280 acres, nearly one hundred acres larger than Piedmont Park, and will connect Proctor Creek Greenway and Chattahoochee River Corridor with the Atlanta Beltline.”

 

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David Pendered
David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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