By John Schaffner

Neighborhood Planning Unit-B (NPU-B) quickly dispatched the approval of a special use permit for one new proposed hotel and a zoning change for a second, both of which would be within a very short walk of Ben Carter’s redevelopment of The Streets of Buckhead, which also has at least two hotels in its plans.

The first application was for a special use permit to operate a hotel, which reportedly will be a Hampton Inn primarily for business travelers, at 3172 Roswell Road, N.W. The site, which is just less than an acre, was the location of the former Rio Bravo restaurant and bar. It is at the corner of Roswell Road and Irby Avenue. The hotel will be nine stories and will have 187 rooms.

The NPU board unanimously approved the application.

The second was for rezoning the properties at 2909, 2915 and 2919 Peachtree Road and 3 and 5 Buckhead Avenue for a new Crowne Plaza hotel in the Garden Hills neighborhood. Those plans call for a 17-story development with a 238-room hotel, topped with 24 condominium units and 12,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor. It also is to have a fine dining restaurant and a day spa. The plans also call for five levels of underground parking.

At present, the 1.59-acre site is home to the Moe’s restaurant and a four-story brick building south of Moe’s. It has approximately 325 feet of frontage on Peachtree Avenue and 180 feet of frontage on Peachtree Road.

The request considered by the NPU was for rezoning the property from RG-2 (Residential General Sector 2) and C-3 (Commercial Residential) to C-3 and PD-H (Planned Development-Housing). It was approved with conditions agreed to by the applicant, Kennedy Capital Group LLC, and the Garden Hills Civic Association.

Among the 11 conditions agreed to, the building is not to exceed 225 feet and signage will be limited to the front of the building facing Peachtree Road and to the northern side of the building facing Peachtree Avenue. No signage will be placed on the portions of the southern and eastern parts of the building facing the Garden Hills neighborhood and none of it will be neon.

The applicant also agrees to expand the sidewalk along Peachtree Avenue from the corner of Peachtree Road and Peachtree Avenue to the end of the adjacent property.

In terms of curb cuts, the applicant has agreed to one on Peachtree Avenue that will include angling to cars to turn left out the property toward Peachtree Road, rather than into the neighborhood. The applicant also will work with the city’s transportation department to get a median installed on Peachtree Avenue at the curb cut. This will force traffic to turn toward Peachtree Road rather than toward the neighborhood.

The application was approved by the NPU-B board with the inclusion of all of the conditions.

Liquor license request

The board also approved a liquor license application for the Tongue & Groove restaurant for its new location at 565 Main Street in the Lindbergh City Center development. The restaurant, which formerly was located in Buckhead Village has new ownership as well, 2420 Piedmont Road LLC, which was the applicant.

Atlanta budget

After dispensing with all of the formal business, board chair Jeff Shell passed out copies of a note from Councilman Howard Shook, chair of the Finance-Executive Committee, and Mayor Shirley Franklin’s letter to council regarding her proposed 2009 fiscal year budget. That started a somewhat heated discussion.

Board member Cathy Muzzy wanted to know if there was any way of tapping into the millions of dollars of surplus funds the Atlanta public schools presently has and if the percentage of property taxes that go to the city’s school system can be reduced in future years. The Atlanta public schools presently get more than 50 percent of the property taxes paid by city residents and businesses.

Board member Sally Silver, who chairs the NPU’s Development and Transportation Committee, pointed out that included in the recent city firings associated with the 2009 budget proposal were the only three people in the city Planning Department who knew “how to calculate impact fees.”

Silver urged board members to encourage friends and neighbors to attend the series budget hearings at city hall.