Stonecrest is annexing property at 6024 Covington Highway, to the west of LA Fitness, which would have been in the proposed City of Greenhaven. This area is in unincorporated DeKalb, but is a in the target area of Greenhaven’s grab and is in The Greater Hidden Hills Overlay District, which has been in existence since 2011. Rocklyn Homes would like to build a new construction home development. The City of Stonecrest voted on the matter that would have downgraded the zoning at the intersection of Panola and Covington.
The neighbors of Hidden Hills and surrounding areas requested the zoning code of the Overlay District be applied to the property the city plans to annex. The council voted September 17 to unanimously defer the matter and asked the attorney to convey to Rocklyn Homes that some improvements were needed. If the property had stayed under the Greater Hidden Hills Overlay, it would have been required to set aside 20% for public open space, have 30-foot buffers next to the Scarbrough neighborhood. They asked for more trees and that the stormwater drainage system be environmentally sensitive and attractive. The next step is up to Rocklyn Homes.
The neighbors of Hidden Hills and surrounding areas won some concessions from Halpern Enterprises, but the firm has not agreed to the zoning requirements that would make the residential development much better. The Stonecrest Planning Commission originally turned down the recommendations. Hidden Hills neighbors requested the conditions to be accepted or that the matter be deferred while the developer makes improvements to its plan.
The citizens in this area were asking for:
1. A minimum of 20% publicly accessible open space shall be provided for each new multifamily or new mixed-use development. This does not include private backyards/courtyards. It may include any combination of the following: planted areas, fountains, parks, plazas, trails…and similar features. The applicant’s plan has no publicly accessible open space, although they will tell you that we should count the landscaped entrance and the 15-foot inaccessible buffer as open space. Note – both the GHHCDC and the I-20 Overlay Districts have this requirement. 2. Must provide a transitional buffer between the development and an adjacent neighborhood of not less than 30 feet, maintained in a natural state. The applicant’s buffer includes the backyards. That means that the Scarbrough neighborhood will be right up against this development, with little protection. 3. More tree coverage: 15 per acre is not enough. The average canopy in Atlanta is 111.6 tree/acre, according to US Dept of Agriculture, Forest Service, June 2010. Dramatic and proven positive impact on energy use, air quality, run-off, noise abatement, and biodiversity. The lot had been forested in 2012.The condition should require that trees that cannot be part of the development be planted somewhere in the city. The applicant’s plan says it will replace trees that are lost as a part of this development, but it makes no accommodation for the trees cut down in 2012. 4. Stormwater drainage system needs to be more environmentally sensitive and attractive. This site should include permeable pavers, rain gardens, and vegetative swales. The stormwater retention pond could be an aesthetic and recreational feature, with a walking path and benches around it. The applicant plans to put a chain link fence around the retention pond and plant bushes, but nothing more.