SERVING THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF DRUID HILLS
A COMMUNITY NESTLED IN THE HEART OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA
by Mark Goldman, representing Emory Village Alliance
Following a three-year effort led by the Emory Village Alliance, with input from literally hundreds of stakeholders, the Emory Village Zoning Overlay has been approved by the District 2 Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners!
Involved stakeholders included the DHCA, its members and other DH residents, Emory University, Emory Village businesses and property owners, the Druid Hills Golf Club, the DeKalb County Department of Planning and Sustainability and the Law Department, former County Commissioners Jeff Rader and Kathy Gannon, and current Commissioners Michelle Long Spears and Ted Terry and their staff. With Spears and Terry’s strong support, the BOC approved the new Overlay unanimously.
Since its inception in 2001, the primary goal of what is now the Emory Village Alliance has been to revitalize the Village as a safe and attractive place to meet others, dine, shop, live, and play. A Zoning Overlay was first developed in 2007, and this led to substantial improvements to public spaces: replacing a slow five-way traffic light with the most beautiful and efficient round-about in all of the metro area; a delightful plaza with fountain and sculpture made from trolley tracks found under our streets; new sidewalks and crosswalks, benches, trash cans, and bike racks; and over 50 street trees.
What has not been achieved is mixed-use redevelopment, envisioned to be a bit like a miniature version of downtown Decatur, with three- and four-story buildings largely containing restaurants and shops on the ground floor, and offices, condominiums, and apartments above. “Best Practices” from around the world indicated that this approach would help revitalize the Village.
Unfortunately and surprising to many, the 2007 Overlay did not result in developers moving forward with redevelopment of non-historical properties. Additionally, much had changed over time, so the mix of businesses, restaurants, and offices needed to be rethought. With support from DeKalb County Commissioners and the Department of Planning and Sustainability, EVA took a second look. The aim was to remove unnecessary barriers to positive and successful mixed-use developments, while maintaining long-established objectives to keep the scale moderate (no more than four stories), for the Village to be pedestrian-oriented, to keep historic buildings, and to serve the community.
None of what had been controversial when the first Overlay was developed have been changed: number of building levels, building height, and the Village’s boundaries.
Changes to the Overlay include:
Please see several options recently presented by DeKalb County for a multi-use trail connecting the VA Clairmont Rd campus to Wesley Woods and ultimately to Eagle Row on Emory’s main campus. The DHCA would love to hear your thoughts. Let us know what you think by emailing Publicsafety@druidhills.org and email@example.com.
We can report that the Briarcliff Rd bridge replacement near Sage Hill is finally moving forward. Installation of silt fences should begin soon, followed by utility re-location. The work will close one lane of Briarcliff Road traffic for periods of time during active construction work. The department estimated the bridge construction will be complete by September 2024. Traffic will get worse before it gets better! Once complete, DeKalb County will begin work on our newest park along the creek below the bridge.
And in other trail news, we are sharing several options presented by DeKalb County for a multi-use trail connecting the VA Clairmont Rd campus to Wesley Woods and ultimately to Eagle Row on Emory’s main campus. The DHCA would love to hear your thoughts. See summary plans here and let us know what you think by emailing Publicsafety@druidhills.org and firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARTA’s Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative proposes a high-capacity bus rapid transit (BRT) or light rail transit (LRT) service to provide a connection between Lindbergh Center and Decatur or Avondale MARTA stations. Proposed routes travel though Druid Hills alongside or through the Sage Hill shopping center, Old Briarcliff Road, Emory University, Druid Hills High School, and Emory Grove neighborhood.
MARTA is hosting a series of four public meetings in mid-July, in-person and virtually, to inform and gather input from residents. Information about the project and the four public meetings may be found at https://connectclifton.com
Additionally, DHCA will host a special Community Meeting to focus on the proposed routes through Druid Hills. The virtual meeting will be held at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, July 27. MARTA will present project information specific to Druid Hills, answer questions, and gather community input.
Emory University presented plans for a Graduate Student Housing Project in Haygood Triangle, across the street from Druid Hills High School. Information and updates about the project are posted by Emory here and here. This article from What Now Atlanta provides a good overview of the proposed project and shows initial site renderings.
We Are Listening
The DHCA has been actively engaged with the community to gather input as to their thoughts, concerns, support and/or opposition to the proposed project and to use that input to develop a plan for engaging Emory and the City of Atlanta.
We conducted two surveys regarding Emory’s Graduate Student Housing Project, one online and one door-to-door in the adjacent neighborhood.
There were 197 comments from 80 respondents to the online survey; 20% of the comments expressed support for the project and 80% of the comments expressed concern. In the door-to-door survey of 66 homes in close proximity to the project only 2 of 32 responses were in favor of the project. The top concerns expressed by residents in each survey are shown in the adjacent bar charts and more detailed survey results may be found here.
Where Are Things Now?
After careful discussion about how to best advocate for the expressed concerns of Druid Hills residents, the DHCA adopted a detailed position statement which can be found here.
Given Emory’s policy to protect and buffer surrounding neighborhoods with lower densities at the campus edges, we have requested the project be relocated toward the campus interior. However, should Emory move forward in the Haygood Triangle location, we have requested several actions to mitigate the detrimental impacts of the project on the surrounding neighborhood.
Our requests are based on the residential input we received. We are asking for mitigation related to:
The scale and orientation of the proposed southernmost building immediately across from the adjoining neighborhood
Traffic and parking congestion
Tree canopy and greenspace preservation
What Happens Next?
Emory has applied to the City of Atlanta to rezone the Haygood Triangle property and will present it to the NPU-F Zoning Committee on August 23, 2021. The DHCA will state its position at the same meeting.
Once the matter passes through the Zoning Committee, NPU-F will vote on it at its general meeting in September, and then it will proceed to the City of Atlanta Zoning Review Board, currently scheduled for review on October 7, 2021.
What Can You Do?
Druid Hills residents, especially those who live in the immediate area of Haygood Triangle, should contact their friends and contacts within NPU-F to share their concerns about the project.
Jennifer Ide is the Atlanta City Councilwoman for NPU-F. Druid Hills residents may write to Councilwoman Ide regarding the project at email@example.com
Upping Our Game
The volunteers in the DHCA are working hard to advocate for all residents of Druid Hills and to communicate what is happening with this and all other issues which affect our community.
The DHCA needs your help to improve our efforts and get better at what we do. We want your input and involvement. If you would like to get involved with any of our committees to work on neighborhood issues and help us continue to do better, please reach out to any of the board members.
Above is the area that is proposed for the Emory Graduate Student Housing Project.
Please note the following correction: The above chart originally included incomplete survey results and has been updated.
The Cator Woolford Estate, which includes Frazer Center, plans to erect a fence around the perimeter of the gardens and forest. In recent years there has been an increase in concerning activities on the site. These incidents have caused growing concern about the safety and liability of children, families and others who have legitimate reasons for being on the property, as well as the historic buildings and surroundings. This, in additional to gaining better invasive species control over the grounds, is why the board feels it is prudent to fence in the property.
The fence will be a 6’ tall commercial grade black vinyl chain link fence. The placement of the fence is intended to make it disappear within the heavily wooded environment. No trees or critical root zones will be impacted, and the fence will not cross streams.
Learn more details in their FAQ. See where the fence will go on the property here. Learn about the history of the property and the issues they face here.
Emory University hosted a community meeting on June 23 to present plans for their Graduate Student Housing Project in the “Haygood Triangle” area. The recorded presentation may be viewed here. Information and updates about the project will be posted by Emory here.
The DHCA is in the process of gathering community input. We will compile and use your input to inform and direct our next steps as we interact with Emory. A follow up meeting with Emory will be announced soon.
The DHCA invites your responses and comments about the Emory University Graduate Student Housing Project.
Take our survey
GDOT held a stakeholder meeting to share conceptual plans to address safety along the Ponce de Leon corridor. Our public safety and transportation committees provided input on behalf of our neighborhood. You can read the DHCA's statement and as well as notes from the stakeholder meeting on our Ponce Corridor Page .
Atlanta City Council will hold a virtual public hearing on March 1st, 2020. This proposed ordinance, if passed, will regulate short term rentals in Atlanta and would impact all of Druid Hills within Atlanta city limits. Residents that want to rent their properties using Airbnb or other short term rental companies would have to get a permit ($150 application fee plus $300 permit fee), pay 8% tax, and follow the rules and regulations of the ordinance. There isn't currently any legislation governing short-term rentals in Unincorporated DeKalb, but the county may not be far behind in doing so.
Although most renters are respectful and are not a nuisance, some can be. Report an issue with specific renters to the authorities, as you would with any other disturbance. If you suspect that an Airbnb property is being misused or not properly handled by the owner, learn more about how to file a complaint with Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/neighbors
Read FAQ's about the proposed ordinance here.
DRUID HILLS CIVIC ASSOCIATIONP.O. Box 363, Decatur, GA 30031
©2020 Druid Hills Civic Association. | Druid Hills Civic Association, Inc. is a Georgia non-profit corporation.