Tuesday, June 28, 2011

MANA Meeting of June 27, part II: Zoning and Medlock Elementary updates

Medlock Elementary Status Update

In a phone call to MANA President Kathryn Firago, Dan Drake (Director of Planning and Forecasting DCSS) shared that the current plan for Medlock Elementary is as follows:
1. a short-term lease (~2 years)
2. use of Medlock Elementary as classroom space for students displaced during the construction phase of a 900-student elementary school (aka Fernbank Elementary)
3. again make the Medlock school available for leasing

Also see below.

Zoning Updates

Our thanks to Theresa Same, MANA's zoning guardian angel! Below is her summary of the projects she is monitoring.

* North Dekalb Mall - They are planning to add a Golden Corral to the area - a free standing building at the NE corner best known as the location of the carnival rides. They are asking for a variance on parking and signage. Area is already paved and the sign variance has to do with going over the square footage as they want to do 3 signs.

* JD Byrider - Some of you may have noticed blue signs outside what was formerly JD Byrider. They are asking for a parking variance to add a medical building. Appears to be an improvement and an appropriate use of the property.

* Dash - If you aren't aware of this yet, Dash is at the corner of Woodridge and Scott where the Udipi use to be. They are permitted and zoned to be a restaurant, but are running the place like a night club. There are several neighbors in the area who are irate - rightly so and have been working hard to get it shut down or at least enforce restaurant hours. Several neighbors in the area working hard to get the County to do something about this problem and MANA is doing what we can to support them. Claire French has spearheaded this effort and has recently drafted a letter to Burell Ellis for the MANA Board. Upon approval by the MANA board, letter will be sent to B. Ellis.

* Suburban Plaza - Many of you may have heard the Walmart rumor by now. What we do know is that Selig (owners/developer) is in the exploration phase with Walmart, but that no deal has been reached. Selig met with Rader's office and is looking for public funding to redevelop the property (no promises of any type have been made by Rader's office). They are proposing to do an urban/smaller store with underground parking - big $$ investment. They have the zoning to put a big box store on this property, so the biggest thing standing in their way is money. This will likely be a long process and may not result in anything. I know that many folks are very unhappy about the prospect of Walmart in the area - some on facebook are saying the neighborhood should fight it. I have to admit it is not my first choice. But at this point I have not seen plans and cannot necessarily say it is a bad thing. The development Selig did on Howell Mill with a Walmart is not unattractive. Yes, any successful redevelopment of the property will increase traffic. I would hope that with the redevelopment of the area that we might be able to discuss improvements to the intersections and add pedestrian/bike friendly improvements. We are waiting to hear back from Selig.

* Medlock School Closing and Interviewing of interested parties - I have been working with Tanya, Patrick and Kathryn on the school closure and interviewing of groups interested in leasing the property. At this point, we've interviewed and supported the further exploration of leasing the property to the International School and Congregation Bet Havrim. Although there is some preference to keep the property a school, we thing either would be a good fit with the neighborhood and for the property. CBH is looking for a long term lease while ICS is willing to take a shorter term.

* Medlock School and T-Mobile Cell Phone Tower Proposal - It looks like the discussion and vote will likely take place in July. I would encourage folks to continue to write letters to the school board. It is important to not let up on this.

* Courtesy/Vol Repair - It looks like Vol Repair has moved into the new Courtesy dealership. They are an established business with many years under their belt. They do not require a zoning change, so the neighborhood was not notified. The good news is that for the size of the building/property, they are a small group. [Note: when this was discussed at the MANA meeting, audience members noted they've been doing business already they have no problems to report.]

* Intown Hardware - Some of you might have noticed that Intown Hardware has taken over the lawyers property and increased their garden center. I was so happy to see the Workers Comp billboard come down. I was able to help with this rezoning last fall. I think as time goes on, they will continue to make improvements to the parking and street front area.

* Watch for any movement at other dealerships

* Majestic Manor - Other wise known as that hole up on Lawrenceville Highway. No updates.