By John Schaffner
Residents of south Buckhead can begin to envision how the BeltLine may impact, and in some cases transform, their neighborhoods as Atlanta BeltLine Inc. (ABI), working with the city Planning Department, is rapidly developing a Master Plan for the BeltLine project.
The next opportunity for Buckhead residents to view and hear a briefing about the preliminary master planning focus to date and to provide public input to the process will be Oct. 30, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Peachtree Hills Recreation Center Gymnasium, 308 Peachtree Hills Road, N.E.
The BeltLine area around the city has been divided into 10 study areas for the master planning process, five of which are in the planning process at this time, including the south Buckhead area.
The master planning process for the Northside Study Group, which includes south Buckhead, is scheduled to be completed and presented in final form on January 22 of next year, which is the next scheduled meeting for that study area after Oct. 30.
“The master planning process is where we take a detailed, multi-disciplinary look in terms of land use, transportation, parks, historic preservation and urban design,” Jonathan Lewis, who is heading up the BeltLine Division within the city’s Planning Department, told some 100 interested residents and who attended a major Atlanta BeltLine fourth quarter briefing Oct. 11 at the Atlanta Public Schools offices in downtown Atlanta.
“It is a more detailed look than we have ever taken before with the BeltLine,” he explained. “In the next few months, we are going to have draft planning materials and recommendations.”
Lewis said the Northside Study Group is “a little bit ahead of the others and we have some draft concept materials, including a mapping concept for the Peachtree Road/BeltLine intersection.”
He said one of the concepts the consulting team has fleshed out is a parkway along Peachtree Creek, which he said “would provide a much needed new connection between Peachtree and Piedmont roads. “It has a lot of challenges environmentally and from an engineering prospective, but we are taking a look at it.”
Lewis seemed to confirm earlier reports that Friends of Tanyard Creek Park and residents of neighborhoods around the park may have been able to influence a change in the proposed initial PATH Foundation’s trail route through the park.
The planner told the audience, “Another really exciting development has been the recent harmony between the various groups on the Tanyard Creek Trail. We are moving forward with an alignment that runs predominantly along the western side of the creek (a route proposed by the Friends of Tanyard Creek Park) after numerous meetings and working and intensive study between the PATH Foundation, the neighborhoods and Atlanta BeltLine Inc.,” he explained. “And, we’re just thrilled.”
He said the only outstanding issue “that we are working through is about 350 feet of encroachment on the state-mandated stream buffer. It is a pretty serious issue, but we think that the impacts on this side overall are less invasive and it is going to be a great trail and a great amenity for the park so we are really excited about it.”
The PATH proposal for the trail through Tanyard Creek Park would have cut through a large grassy meadow which was one of the battlefields of the Civil War Battle of Peachtree Creek, where 6,500 soldiers died. The grassy meadow now is used almost all weekends and sometimes during the week by college sports teams and neighborhood kids at play.
A handout of “commonly asked questions and answers” provided further description of the discussions regarding the trail through Tanyard Creek Park. It said Atlanta BeltLine Inc. had asked the community to provide alternative alignment recommendations “to enable our consultants from Glatting-Jackson to consider them as part of the analysis of alternative routes.”
The public had an opportunity to discus trail alternatives at the Northside Study Group meeting on Sept. 25 and recommendations from that meeting were then presented to the Steering Committee on Sept. 27.
The handout at the meeting went on to say: “The plan now under consideration routes the path through the west side of the park, which would preserve more of the meadow than the alignment that stays to the east. Detailed plans will be presented to the community next month (at the Oct. 30 meeting). Given the environmental sensitivities in this area, the trail may be part concrete and part elevated wooden boardwalk.
“Finalizing the trail route is, among other factors, subject to further vetting with the community, and the approval of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The PATH Foundation, ABI and partners are working together to incorporate community input, and overcome potential obstacles and secure the necessary regulatory approvals needed to proceed with the project.”
The areas representing the greatest amount of proposed new building in the south Buckhead area according to the preliminary graphics shown at the Oct. 11 meeting are north of Piedmont Hospital on both sides of Peachtree Road—especially where the proposed Peachtree Creek parkway would intersect with Peachtree Road—and surrounding the MARTA rail yards near Piedmont Road.
He said the Master Plan recommendations for the Northside Study Area would be reviewed with the public at the Oct. 30 meeting.
He told the audience there finally is a new website, BeltLine.org, which will help bring residents up to speed with the planning process and other aspects of the BeltLine project. The resource library area of the website has materials from previous meetings and concepts that can be reviewed for each study group area.