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City council to vote on Westside Park building moratorium, a rare but not unprecedented move

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Other metro Atlanta cities have put the kibosh on permitting and rezoning, affording them time to analyze development impacts

The Westside Reservoir site’s proximity to Atlanta’s core, from a drone’s perspective.
The under-construction Westside Park would be the city’s largest public green space.
Craig Levine/YouTube

Today, the Atlanta City Council is expected to consider legislation that would make official the moratorium on new building permits for all projects neighboring the under-construction Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry, a massive project that could in many ways guide the area’s future.

Only its initial phase is under construction, but the forthcoming park—slated to eventually be Atlanta’s largest public green space, spanning some 280 acres—is already creating an economic impact and gold-rush mentality that’s spurred worries of displacement.

So last month, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for a moratorium on all new rezoning and building permit applications for six months, citing a need “to address rapid gentrification occurring in the area.”

Bottoms’s executive order put the moratorium in place temporarily, but an approving vote by the city council would make it law.

Councilmember Andre Dickens tells Curbed Atlanta the council is expected to vote on the measure today.

The move, in theory, would give city officials time to assess how Westside development trends are affecting neighborhoods like Grove Park, Knight Park/Howell Station, and Rockdale—and possibly help stem the displacement of longtime residents.

It’s a rather unorthodox approach, but not one that’s unprecedented.

In late 2018, for instance, the City of Dunwoody enacted a six-month moratorium of its own, halting all multifamily development.

Officials in the north metro city said the pause on processing applications and permits was motivated by a need to better understand the city’s fire-safety codes and ordinances, at a time when the suburban community was embracing more urban-style development trends.

As with the Westside moratorium, the decision to put construction plans on hold was somewhat controversial, although Dunwoody’s development boom hardly seemed hindered in the long run.

The City of East Point also recently enacted a moratorium on industrial permits and zoning changes, according to HomeRuleNews.

“We don’t want to become overdeveloped with industrial usage within East Point,” East Point Mayor Deana Holiday-Ingraham said last month, according to the publication. “We want to have rational growth patterns to ensure longterm public infrastructure sustainability.”

Similarly, in late 2017, the Atlanta City Council considered imposing a moratorium on new projects in West Midtown, where development was outpacing the upkeep of local roads and other transportation infrastructure—and where a construction boom is nonetheless underway now.

The Atlanta City Council is set to convene today at 1 p.m. to discuss the moratorium, among other matters.