This is a portion (where the abandoned building now sits) of the site on East College Avenue and Maple Street in Avondale Estates where current plans call for 281 apartments. Bill Banks file photo for the AJC

Critical Avondale vote on proposed development delayed three days

Facing one of its most visible decisions in recent years, the Avondale Estates Board of Mayor and Commissioners rescheduled its regular monthly meeting, originally set for August 27, to 6:30 p.m. August 30 at City Hall, 21 N. Avondale Plaza.

The board will decide whether to approve a proposed development on East College Avenue and Maple Street calling for 281 apartments over a total 101,000 square feet on 4.3 acres. The project has proved divisive since January when developer Trammell Crow Residential initially presented plans at a commission work session.

Without question Avondale is starved for new development, particularly considering its commercial tax revenue traditionally hovers around 9 percent. In recent weeks a number of local business owners have posted letters on various sites favoring the project. It also appears, judging from recent work sessions, that at least a majority of the five commissioners are in favor.

But it in other quarters the project is unequivocally unpopular.

On August 7 the city’s Planning & Zoning Board declined recommending the development by a 4-1 vote. One night earlier by a 5-0 count the Architectural Review Board denied Trammell Crow a certificate of appropriateness. Trammell Crow has filed an appeal on this decision, which the commission will hear Thursday immediately after voting on the project itself.

After this month, the appeal can’t be heard again until November.

Additionally, a petition opposing the development has received 683 signatures (or about 20 percent of the city’s population), including 474 identified as registered voters. That’s more votes than any current commissioner received save Lisa Shortell, who had 569 last November.

The petition’s primary complaint is that the city’s zoning calls for a maximum building footprint of only 30,000 square feet, and 40 units per acre (Trammel Crow’s proposed residential density is 72 units per acre). Another reproach is that that the development calls for only 5,000 square feet of retail, or less than five percent, far below the stated goals of Avondale’s master plan.

“I think the majority of the community is against the project as it now stands,” said Lyda Steadman, one of the petition’s five authors. “We’re not against Trammell Crow—most of us want to work with them. We just want something closer to the city’s zoning and master plan.”