By Michael Thompson

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Atlanta BeltLine Inc., Terri Montague addressed Neighborhood Planning Unit-E Sept. 4 outlining recent developments in the project and stating, “This is the most exciting socioeconomic project taking place in the country right now.”

More than 30 citizens attended the meeting at the Peachtree Christian Church and were eager to hear from Montague, who spoke at length about the beltline project.

Montague said, “We have a chance to do something right and well for the city for its current residents and future residents.”

Steve Brodie, a resident of NPU-E, voiced a major concern for many at the meeting when he said, “Our NPU represents the highest density that will be impacted by the BeltLine. The changes will happen quickly and will be very intense. The process will bring about much frustration on the part of NPU-E citizens.”

Montague stressed the importance of patience and clear understanding in addressing the many issues that NPU-E citizens and all NPU citizens feel regarding the situation.

The BeltLine project proposes to combine green space, trails, transit and a new development along 22 miles of historic rail segments that encircle urban core. It will include over 1,300 acres of new and expanded parks, 33 miles of continuous trails and will create 30,000 permanent jobs and 48,000 yearlong construction jobs. An estimated $20 billion increase in the tax base will be created over 25 years.

Michael Rothman, chair of NPU-E said, “It’s literally neighborhood vs. developer in this situation. We need to say lets get peoples contact information. Personally speaking, at the bottom of the list of priorities is quality of life for existing residents of Atlanta. We feel that we’re being left out.”

Rothman and other members of the board of NPU-E felt that Montague hadn’t properly informed them about the developments on the BeltLine project.

Montague addressed the indecision regarding this situation by saying, “If you want to invite someone from the zoning division for one of your zoning and work planning sessions, we can accommodate this. If you’re seeing adverse reactions, we want to work to remedy this. We want to respect transitional development going into residential areas. As we build the beltline infrastructure itself, but if you’re having unintended consequences, show us the examples and we’ll work with you to help fix these problems.”

In other news, a representative of the Atlanta Police Department reported that crime is up 1 percent from this time last year in NPU-E.

In zoning matters, a number of rezoning variances passed. A home at 15 Maddox Drive will be able to reduce the setback from 7 feet required to 3.5 feet to install an air conditioning unit. Jared Samples asked for special exception on his property at 1029 Piedmont Avenue to reduce the off-street parking from 15 spaces to 4 spaces for a mixed use development. He was granted approval.