By John Schaffner

Get ready, Buckhead! If Trader Joe’s food market is appearing before Neighborhood Planning Unit-B (NPU-B) to get approval for a license to sell wine and beer, “Two Buck Chuck” can’t be far behind.

What is known is that Trader Joe’s, the California-based food stores—known primarily for organic foods from around the world, items not found in normal food stores and cheap to moderately priced wines, is going to open in Buckhead at 3163 Peachtree Road, N.E. (the space formerly occupied by OfficeMax).

What remains unknown is when the store will open.

According to a representative of Trader Joe’s, who was presenting the company’s case for a license to sell wine and beer before NPU-B May 1, she did not know when the store will open.

During the meeting of the full NPU-B board May 1, the question was asked how Trader Joe’s could even apply for a license to sell wine and beer, since the store will be located across Peachtree Road from the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.

It was pointed out that the savvy food retailer was placing its main entrance on the back side of the former OfficeMax building, thus eliminating the distance/site requirement from a church from consideration for the license.

The application for the license to sell wine and beer passed the full NPU-B board the same way it passed the Public Safety Committee earlier in the evening, with just one abstention marring a unanimous approval.

That may be more abstainers than Trader Joes’s will experience for its Two Buck Chuck.

Actually, in Atlanta, Two Buck Chuck costs about $2.50. The wine was known as Two Buck Chuck until Trader Joe’s came to Georgia, where local distributor laws forced the company to increase the price by 49 cents.

But, enough about the lighter side of the NPU-B May board meeting.

The board heard a number of presentations, not the least of which was from Denise Starling, executive director of BATMA and the person in charge of the new $200,000 study of the Piedmont Road corridor funded principally by the Buckhead Community Improvement District (CID). The mobility study will center on transportation and will not offer detail on land uses, according to Starling. She said the unique part of this study is that the public input is being sought upfront and it is hoped the public will lead the effort.

Starling, who also is the person who gave birth to the Buc, Buckhead’s free local shuttle service, answered a question regarding the future of Buc by saying the CID has been paying the full cost of operating it since November of last year and will decide next month whether it will continue to fund it and, if so, to what level.

Starling said at present levels it would cost the CID $1.2 million per year to fund the Buc operations, which she told the group was impractical. She said she is working on plans to present to the CID board that are based on its funding level of $500,000 per year.

She said they have been talking to MARTA about taking over operation of the Buc, but, she said, they do not understand that type of transit operation. She indicated the Buc needs regional and state funding to survive.

In what might have turned out to be the most heated discussion of the evening, but wasn’t, city planner Jessica Lavandier led a discussion of the controversial infill housing ordinance offered up and amended by City Council after more than a year in the hopper.

At the May board meeting, NPU-B was to discuss the ordinance, offer up the opinions offered by members on various aspects of the legislation, and prepare to vote yea or nay on it at the board’s June meeting.

The ordinance amendments presented to the NPU-B board relating to the acceptable scale of residential housing in Atlanta clarifies some of the terminology in the existing ordinance, sets uniform regulations for lot coverage and Floor Area Ratio (FAR), maximums for various zoning categories, sets new definitions and regulations for duplexes, establishes guidelines for walls and fences, defines and regulates main floor level heights, clarifies maximum building heights, explains how basements and attics fit into the FAR determinations and how that is treated with existing structures undergoing renovation to attics and basements.

The board will take a position on the ordinance amendments at its June meeting, but NPU-B chairman Jeff Shell urged those who have strong feelings about some of the amendments to the ordinance or who might disagree with the position of the NPU on the overall amendments to email their comments to the city planner, members of City Council, members of the council’s Zoning Committee and the NPU.

NPU-B will vote yea or nay on the ordinance amendments as a whole in June, but Lavandier said those amendments may change by then based on the input the city receives from the meeting of NPU-B and other NPUs around the city.