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Reynoldstown neighbors fight Beltline apartment proposal with petition

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Drama involving height of multifamily complex on key R-town parcel continues

Reynoldstown neighbors who feel the size of a Beltline residential proposal is harmfully out-of-whack with the surrounding neighborhood are formalizing their opposition beyond recent “nay” votes.

At a lively meeting earlier this month, the City of Atlanta Zoning Review Board voted 3-2 to approve legislation that would allow developer Metzger & Co. to build a taller, five-story apartment building bounded by Holtzclaw Street and (eventually) the Beltline’s Eastside Trail.

The decision went against requests to deny the changes made by neighborhood groups such as the Reynoldstown Civic Improvement League. Beyond traffic concerns, they argue the building would actually be six stories (once a two-story interior garage is factored in) and would dwarf nearby single-family homes without “stepping down” in transitional heights as the Beltline’s master plan calls for.

As of Monday morning, a petition to keep the current height conditions had gathered more than 600 signatures.

Leaders say it will be delivered to the Atlanta City Council and Mayor Kasim Reed.

The zoning changes, opponents say, would violate an agreement reached by RCIL and the developer back in 2008 and would bump up the number of units to 142, a change of about 30 percent.

According to a press release distributed by Reynoldtown opposition, the project’s 10 percent traffic increase would be severe. Most surrounding streets are abnormally narrow and function in a “give-way” manner, meaning that vehicles traveling in opposite directions must pull aside and let others pass.

Several neighbors have written anonymous letters in opposition.

“The proposed six-story building flagrantly violates everything elucidated in the [Beltline] Master Plan for Subarea 4,” reads one. “It’s an inappropriate scale for the interior of a neighborhood of one-story bungalows on give-way streets.”

Another writer stresses that R-town isn’t NIMBY by nature:

“Reynoldstown is pro-development and has encouraged development around the periphery of this small, historic neighborhood. [The recent] zoning review board meeting was the first time in recent memory that the neighbors have contested development. In fact, they’ve encouraged more density around Reynoldstown periphery…more than what was actually taken advantage of. That’s important. We need to dig deeper and determine why are we pushing back on this one when we haven’t before.”

Cathy Woolard, a former Atlanta City Council president and current mayoral hopeful who was among the Beltline’s early backers, has also spoken out against the project, saying its “suburban-style” concept and lack of affordable housing could set a harmful precedent as the Beltline grows.

Meanwhile, Beltline officials have attended meetings to urge support for the site’s densification, stressing that development is crucial for funding more Beltline construction via the tax allocation district.