Thank you to everyone who came out for the meeting, those who got there early to report for us and those who hurried over right after the end of the holiday.
As seems to be tradition, we were at the end of the evening. The Commissioners meeting definitely moved faster than the planning commission meeting earlier in the month. When they called the case, it was a little humorous to see Commissioner Rader ask for a statement from the petitioner, and then realize that Marian Eisenberg was the petitioner. He noted she’d have her moment later when she was asked for her opinion representing the planning commission. So once again, the absurdity of this process was on display, but kudos to Commissioner Rader for handling it professionally and fairly.
The lawyer for the developer Valentin spoke in favor, noting that they were willing to look into building an egress onto Briarcliff, and they were awaiting word from GDOT. He reiterated that his client had purchased the property with the understanding that zoning had been properly obtained, and that he had received 11 building permits already.
We had 10 minutes to speak, and the author of this blog (Joel Avrunin) got to speak first. I shared that we had 3 concerns – safety, aesthetics, and health. On safety, the 2006 plan had egress on Briarcliff and Stephens. Since 2006, traffic has gotten worse. Sharing photos from this blog of The Stephens Superhighway, I explained if we removed any egress, it should be Stephens, not Briarcliff! On aesthetics, I shared that Units 10 and 11 sat within the residential setback. At the very least, Unit 11 needs to come down no matter what happens with the traffic. On health, I discussed the retention pond which is still not functioning properly.
I also shared that personally, I have never been involved in community activism before, but learned a lot the past few months. If there was anything that showed how these “minor” changes were really “major”, it was that they had received a Deny from the Community Council and a No Recommendation from the planning commission, meaning that there was no reason to push this through.
I tried hard to stick to about 4 minutes, and cede my time to my neighbors. About 4 more people spoke, mostly focused on the issues of Unit 11. Neighbors from right across the street mentioned how the shadow of that unit falls every morning on their home, something they had not anticipated given the zoning of the neighborhood when they bought their home.
For future meetings, I think (personally) that having lots of people speak from the heart was far more effective than having 1-2 people with detailed prepared remarks. I would encourage us to plan to do this in the future – keep our requests simple, easy to understand, and let a lot of people have time to speak in 10 minutes. I think it is far more effective, but I’d love to hear us discuss it in the comments.
The decision by Commissioner Rader was to wait until October 23 (the next meeting) to hear from GDOT. This will not go through another full cycle of Community Council and Planning Commission, so plan to attend on 10/23/2018.