By John Schaffner

The Atlanta City Council approved a Beltline overlay zoning district at its Feb. 19 meeting and also changed the city’s long-range land-use plan in order to assure development that is consistent with the planned network of trails, parks and transit along the 22-mile Beltline corridor.

The new zoning will overlay existing zoning classifications, which remain the same. It is designed to guide the appearance of new development to create a relatively seamless community environment by regulating elements such as doorways and awnings and such.

The goal is to develop a Beltline corridor that will be flanked by buildings that encourage people to stroll on sidewalks and sit on benches.

The passage of the items by council will result in the lifting of a temporary moratorium on development along the Beltline as soon as Mayor Shirley Franklin signs the two items. The moratorium was imposed last autumn by Franklin, halting construction of anything along the Beltline that did not conform to the image of a tentative measure crafted by city planners.

Reportedly, Franklin plans to decide whether to sign or veto the two pieces of legislation within a week.

Although the new codes have been in the works for nine months or so, there apparently was no guarantee that council would approve the measures during their regular council meeting.

During council discussion of the matters, Councilman C.T. Martin, who represents the west Atlanta area, said some residents fear the process will allow the city to condemn their property and turn it into parks. He contended the legislation is vague and said that ambiguity could be used against homeowners. Martin voted against both measures.

Northwest Atlanta Councilwoman Felicia Moore had questions about sidewalks and parking. According to the legislation, sidewalks must be built next to new buildings and the regulations strictly define how wide they are to be next to homes and commercial spaces.

Moore questioned whether the efforts to encourage residents to walk or ride bikes from place to place might result in too little parking to facilitate the residents of new condos.

On the flip side, Atlanta Board of Realtors Governmental Affairs Director Patrick Dennis, offered his plea to council to “please expedite it.” He added, “We know there is talk of moving too fast. But, if there is an extension of the moratorium, we suffer. A lot of deals are in place that are costing thousands and thousands of dollars.”