By Amy Wenk

The redevelopment of Georgian Hills Apartments won approval from Neighborhood Planning Unit C (NPU-C) at its July 1 meeting after months of negotiations.

The unanimous vote in favor of the rezoning application represents what can be achieved when neighbors work together in the planning process. Discussions produced a community agreement with 20 rezoning conditions.

“I think it is a pretty comprehensive and exhaustive agreement, certainly more than you usually see,” said Carl Westmoreland, a zoning attorney for property owner Coro Realty Advisors, based on Northside Parkway in Buckhead.

Located at 1185 Collier Road near I-75, Georgian Hills has 250 units. “It was built back in the ’60s,” Westmoreland said. “It’s basically at the end of its useful life.”

Coro filed an application in January to rezone the 18.6-acre site from RG-2 (residential general — Sector 2) to MR-3 (multifamily residential). The company wants to replace the current structures with 397 new housing units — a mix of apartments and 70 to 80 town houses.

Patti Pearlberg, the vice president of asset management for Coro, said discussions began last fall with neighbors, including the DeFoors Glen and Carlyle Square condominiums.

“We wanted to try to incorporate any of their concerns,” Pearlberg said. “We spent a lot of time working with the neighborhood groups.”

To examine the complex zoning request, the NPU formed a task force composed of its Land Use Committee and representatives of the development’s neighbors, and the group met four times with Coro, NPU-C Chairman Eric Ranney said.

He said representatives from NPU-D and Underwood Hills were included because Collier Road is the dividing line between the NPUs.

One resulting stipulation is that Coro will be responsible for the installation of traffic signals at the intersections of Howell Mill Road and Beck Street and of Collier Road and Emery Street.

Emery and Beck streets have long been discussed as a viable bypass around the congested intersection of Collier and Howell Mill roads. But the city never moved forward with that potential traffic solution. The Coro-installed signals could be a major step forward in that effort.

The agreement also calls for Coro to improve the curb cut on Collier Road and to contribute $25,000 to Atlanta for the construction of sidewalks and pedestrian improvements along Collier.

Another concern of neighbors was the density in the north of the property, where the town houses will be.

“In order to address that, within this project, we provided that the density won’t exceed nine units per acre as you move to the north,” Westmoreland said.

The agreement also addresses aesthetics. The apartment buildings can be no more than four stories tall, and the average size of each unit will be 1,000 to 1,100 square feet. The town houses are limited to 35 feet tall and 2,000 to 3,000 square feet. There are also conditions for transitional landscaping along the property boundary.

Coro also is required to stub out a street to accommodate the future needs of an adjacent parcel at 1011 Collier Road. The new development must be open, not gated, so its streets can serve the public.

NPU-C approved the rezoning request, subject to the conditions, 20-0. If approved by the Atlanta City Council in a few months, construction should begin in 2010, Pearlberg said.

In other business, NPU-C heard about builder Todd Henley’s plan to subdivide 1.31 acres at 955 W. Wesley Road. Because the property is zoned R-3 (single-family residential), Henley can divide the two lots into three. He said he plans to build three two-story homes facing Dawn View Lane, each with approximately 4,500 square feet.

The presentation was not well received. People at the meeting said the construction would change the character of West Wesley, cause water problems and disturb mature trees.

Although the agenda item did not call for board action, NPU-C took a straw vote of 16-0 against the subdivision. The comments will be on record when Henley goes before the Subdivision Review Committee on July 23.