By John Schaffner

The board meeting of Neighborhood Planning Unit-B Aug. 7 was punctuated by a recurring series of short power outages that had those attending pulling out flashlights and using the light from their cell phones at times to read the agenda and check out paperwork related to the items to be discussed.

It was unclear as to whether this was a problem contained to the Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church building at 2715 Peachtree Road NE, or whether the outages were being experienced throughout that area of Buckhead, possibly caused by the excessive heat and power demand during the peak hour of 7 p.m.

But the inconveniences did not deter the board from accomplishing its business, although it may have cause the meeting to move along a bit more quickly than usual.

While NPU-B makes most of its decisions regarding zoning issues and alcoholic beverage license applications at the committee level before they are brought before the full board a final vote, one license application ended up being heard for the first time by the full board at the Aug. 3 meeting.

That application was for a change of ownership of an alcoholic beverage license at the Chevron gas station and convenience store at 2331 Peachtree Road, next to the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center, where there apparently have been major security problems in the past, including purse snatchings, thefts, robberies and car hijackings.

Members of the board grilled the new owner of the business, Mohammad H. Haque, and his attorney, M. Hakim Hilliard of the McKenna Long & Aldridge law firm, about what measures had been taken to eliminate or reduce the incidence of crime at the location.

The new owner said he had installed surveillance cameras all around the property, which are constantly monitored inside the facility. He said he discovered when taking over the business that the previous owner had no such security system in place. He also referenced to installing bullet-proof glass at the facility.

After several minutes of questioning by the board, including what type of training he provides his staff, the board voted to approve the application.

The NPU’s Safety Committee Chair Kendall Craig said the committee had also heard applications for new licenses from Lola restaurant, which will be opening at Terminus, 3280 Peachtree Road; the new Fresh Market store which is opening at 4405 Roswell Road, in the Roswell Wieuca shopping center with Goldberg’s deli and Willy, and from Fado, which will be making a temporary move followed by a new permanent move in the area where the Streets of Buckhead is being developed.

On the zoning agenda, five of the items were deferred by the committee and the remaining items were approved, although two of the items that related to properties at 26, 28 and 30 Peachtree Avenue in Garden Hills were approved conditioned on the acceptance by both the Garden Hills neighborhood unit and the developer to certain restrictions. Those ended up being added to zoning and variance applications for the properties. The developer plans to build 15 townhouses on the properties.

The board also approved three city ordinance text amendments. The first by Councilwoman Clair Muller sought to establish the maximum height of retaining walls in front, side and back yards. The NPUs Zoning Committee sought to change the height from 40 inches proposed by Muller to 48 inches so that walls that had been constructed under the previous ordinance would not now become nonconforming. The board was told that the entire ordinance and proposed amendment are being further reviewed by the city’s Planning Department.

The second dealt with the Buckhead Village Overlay District to meet Peachtree Road corridor specifications relating to such items as streetscapes. The board was told that Ben Carter has already agreed to conform to those specifications for the Streets of Buckhead project.

The third text amendment was to provide for regulation of co-location carries on cell towers placed on railroad property, even though the city cannot restrict the building of these towers on rail property or the use of the towers by railroad companies for their own purposes.

The NPU board approved (possibly for the second time) the proposed street/rights-of-way abandonment of a portion of Lakeside Drive NE, between Wright Avenue and East Paces Ferry Road, and Oak Valley Road NE, between Kingsboro Road and approximately 289.03 feet south of Kingsboro Road.

These actions are for the Related Group’s nine-building, 3,800-condos project along Roxboro Road between Lakeside and East Paces Ferry and were endorsed by adjacent neighbors.