As you are aware, 1489 LaVista Road is in the process of being redeveloped to house office space. Back in 1981, this property was rezoned from Residential to allow for O&I (Office and Institutional) building. As it stands today, the buildable area for O&I is smaller than the owner, Dr. Wendy Jacobson, would like to accommodate her offices.
When she presented her plans to us, there were several issues that appeared. I am writing to inform you of the Woodland Hills Board of Directors' stance on the redevelopment of this property. I hope you will support us in our stance. We feel it is fair to the neighborhood and to the developer. Our positions are as follows:
1) No Car Access from Shepherds Lane
2) Allow Variances to occur at in a different way than Dr Jacobson proposed
3) Restrict Building height(s) to 25 feet
4) Allow full car access to/from LaVista Road
Our first position
No car access onto Shepherds Lane from this property. We have several concerns regarding Shepherds Lane car access. Shepherds Lane is a residential street. At the other end of Shepherds Lane, we already have curb cut access to three businesses: QuikTrip, Marcus Institute, and Shepherds Construction. One of WHNA long term goals is to maintain and enhance the residential integrity of Shepherds Lane. By allowing driveway access to Shepherds Lane by another business, we open up the possibility of more developmental creep.
Also, while today we are only talking about this property, there is a long term possibility that the south side of LaVista Road from Shepherds Lane up to the church could be redeveloped as a whole. Next to 1489 LaVista, heading towards Briarcliff, are two existing O&I properties (1493 and 1501 LaVista) and Sloan Square Apartments. It is our understanding that the business owners at 1493 and 1501 are nearing the end of their careers and may be open to selling those properties. Also, it has been brought to our attention that Sloan Square may want to redevelop in the near future. If these three properties, with or without Sloan Square, get redeveloped together, we could not only be looking at a single property accessing Shepherds Lane, but possibly an entire office park. For those reasons, we are completely against car access to Shepherds Lane.
Our second position
Redeploy the variances Dr Jacobson is asking for to allow for a further set back from Shepherds Lane. Dr Jacobson's current proposal is to ask for a 20 foot setback from Shepherds Lane, a 40 foot setback from LaVista Road, a 20 foot setback from 1493 LaVista Road and a 50 foot setback from 1179 Shepherds Lane. Dr Jacobson is also requesting that part of the parking be outside of the requested setbacks and into the front yards of Shepherds and LaVista Road.
WHNA's position is that the dimensions of the buildable area (created by new setbacks) not be altered in size, but altered in location. It is also WHNA's position that no parking spaces be allowed outside of the setbacks on the Shepherds Lane side of the property.
It is WHNA's proposal that the setback from Shepherds Lane be allowed to be 30 feet from the Shepherds Lane right of way, and that the 20 foot setback on the east side of the property (adjacent to 1493 LaVista Road) be reduced to 10 feet. This allows Dr Jacobson to not alter her building plans, but creates more of a buffer to Shepherds Lane. In order to maintain this buffer, WHNA would like to see all parking spots be inside of the setback requests on the Shepherds Lane side of the property.
Our third position
Restrict the height of the buildings to a maximum of 25 feet. As an O&I property, you have the ability to build a structure as high as 50 feet, as long as you can accommodate one parking space per 250 square feet of office space. As it stands today, there doesn't appear to be enough parking area to accommodate a multi-level office building. However, WHNA wants the height restricted to 25 feet to prevent future high density redevelopment of this stretch of properties.
Our fourth position
Allow full car access from LaVista Road to the property. Since we are adamantly opposed to Shepherds Lane car access, WHNA believes Dr Jacobson's property should have full in/out access to LaVista Road.
Please make sure to attend these public meetings
The first meeting will be with the Zoning Board of Appeals on September 8th at 1:00 PM. The Zoning Board of Appeals will hear this matter regarding the setback reductions and allowing parking spaces in the front yards of this property.
WHNA, in coordination with LLCC and LaVista Park, plans to request a postponement of this meeting. We feel that until car access to the property is settled, we cannot support or condemn any planned development for 1489 LaVista Road. However, if our request is not met, we will be prepared to lay out our points above. This September 8th meeting will be held at Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Dr, Decatur, GA30294 at 1pm.
The second meeting will be held on September 13th at 6pm with the DeKalb County Planning & Development Department. This is a Public Administrative Hearing to discuss the potential of a primary entrance on LaVista Road and a secondary entrance on Shepherds Lane. This September 13th meeting will be held at 6 PM at 330 W Pounce de Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030 on the 1st floor in Conference Room A.
Please make every effort to attend these meetings. We need to share our united voices with our elected officials. There is truly strength in numbers.
I am attaching a link to a Variance Site Plan drawn up by Dr Jacobson's architect for their proposed redevelopment of this property. You will notice this was dated 8/5/10 and I am sure there have been tweaks/changes to this proposal.
WHNA Board of Directors