Council overrides Atlanta mayor’s veto of Buckhead church redevelopment

Much of the land set to be redeveloped around the Church at Wieuca currently consists of parking lots. (Screenshot via Google Maps)
Caption
Much of the land set to be redeveloped around the Church at Wieuca currently consists of parking lots. (Screenshot via Google Maps)

Credit: Screenshot via Google Maps

Credit: Screenshot via Google Maps

The Atlanta City Council took the rare step Monday to overturn Keisha Lance Bottoms’ veto of a major development plan for a church property located just off Peachtree Road in Buckhead.

The controversial proposal to redevelop the 12.5-acre Church at Wieuca property to add townhomes, an office building and 300 apartments was initially approved by the City Council two weeks ago, but Bottoms vetoed that decision.

At Monday’s meeting, the council voted 10-4 to override the veto. It was the second time this year the council overrode one of Bottoms’ vetoes, an act that hadn’t happened in more than a decade before this year. City law requires two-thirds of the council, 10 members, to overturn a mayoral veto.

The rezoning of the church property faced staunch opposition from some residents in nearby buildings and condominium complexes, including the Ritz-Carlton Residences next to the property. They worry the new development will make traffic worse and choke the already-congested Buckhead roadways.

ExploreFrom February: Atlanta City Council overrides mayor’s veto of road improvements on busy westside road

Bottoms said in a statement that she was disappointed in the council’s decision.

”This legislation will lead to the development of one of the largest remaining undeveloped properties in Buckhead,” the mayor said. “Doing so will significantly increase traffic and daytime population density in an already congested area. The increased traffic will not only burden residents on a daily basis — it could also affect public safety vehicles and response times. Ultimately, the people of Buckhead will suffer the consequences of this decision.”

Councilman Howard Shook, who represents the area and made the motion to override Bottoms’ veto, pointed out that the proposal had support from the North Buckhead Civic Association, the neighborhood planning unit for that area and the city’s Zoning Review Board.

Tony Mills, who helped put together a coalition of residents to oppose the project, said those groups overlooked significant pushback from nearby residents. He said there are still too many unanswered questions about the design of the new buildings and how they could impact the area, and said the North Atlanta Citizens Coalition plans to appeal the zoning decision.

“We don’t even know what the building’s supposed to look like,” said Mills, who lives in the Ritz-Carlton building. “The traffic and the density quite clearly overwhelm the infrastructure of Buckhead.”

The property is in a prime location — at the corner of Peachtree and Wieuca roads near Phipps Plaza. The church, formerly known as the Wieuca Road Baptist Church, plans to keep its main church building and sanctuary intact and build up around it. Plans call for 38 townhomes, a 440,000-square-foot office building, a 300-unit apartment building and a parking deck. Real estate company Greenstone Properties is leading the redevelopment.

Councilman and mayoral candidate Andre Dickens abstained from the vote, saying the city ethics office advised him to do so “out of an abundance of caution” since he had recently held at an event at the adjacent property.

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