"Don't Worry, Be Happy" was the general refrain at a recent meeting of Howell Station residents. Many who've been pushing back against the development of a gas station at Marietta Boulevard and West Marietta Street were reassured by Councilman Ivory Young Jr. that the project would fall in line with Beltline Overlay District guidelines. But, according to Creative Loafing, that wasn't the biggest topic of discussion for the night; it was divulged at the meeting that roughly 31 acres of property overlooking Westside Reservoir Park could be rezoned for mixed-use development.
For weeks now, Howell Station residents have been in meetings with a developer, Panjwani Group LLC, who's interested in converting a warehouse property at 1250 West Marietta St. into a gas station/Subway/Dunkin Donuts. The plans the developer presented showed a suburban-style gas station which featured, among other things, gas pumps in front of the building despite Beltline restrictions. According to resident Jarvis Läkemäker, the plan by Panjwani had already been rejected by the Urban Design Division of the Office of Planning. And Councilman Young had told residents he would be proposing a text amendment that would allow the project to move forward without changes.
Now, residents are breathing a sigh of relief. "There was a proposal out there that wasn't in line with the Beltline Overlay and not in line with what the neighborhood wanted, and the business owner recognized that, and it seems like the councilman has reversed course on this proposed legislation that would invalidate the overlay," Läkemäker told Creative Loafing. "We came ready for a fight tonight, and it turns out we didn't get one. Kudos to our councilman for recognizing what the neighborhood wanted."
Instead of fighting that gas station battle, residents can look ahead to new developments that might benefit an area which has, until recently, been predominantly industrial.
"Those 31 acres are a significant boundary of the Beltline," Young said at the meeting. "This whole area has really been inundated with heavy industrial use for many years, so it's our hope we can get past the heavy industrial phase and begin to understand the future of development around this beautiful neighborhood."
Stan Williams, one of the NAI Brannen Goddard brokers for the parcel, said if the current zoning variance proposals are approved, it would be the largest development site on the Beltline.