Today, the Georgia Supreme Court REVERSED Superior Court Judge Joel Fryer's decision! The issue involved land-use planning in North Buckhead and whether courts or governments ought to plan land-use. The threat was direct commercial encroachment into North Buckhead.
When Phipps Blvd. and the Buckhead Loop were being planned, the City realized that it had to protect our established, healthy neighborhood from the threat of commercial encroachment. It established a "dividing line" in the official Comprehensive Development Plan: land on the north side of these new streets would be 100% residential and on the south side it would be mixed-use.
In the November 1999 trial, Judge Fryer discarded this part of the Plan and ordered the City to rezone land north of these streets belonging to TAP Associates to permit mixed-use including commercial. Fryer concluded that TAP Associates was harmed financially by the existing zoning and that the City's land-use plan was not related to the public's health and welfare.
Today, the Georgia Supreme Court concluded exactly the opposite in a 4-3 decision. It reinstated Phipps Blvd. and the Buckhead Loop (Lenox Road) as the dividing line between pure residential and mixed use. We won completely!
It is not clear what, if any, action the developer will take to have the case reconsidered or what they will do with the property -- they argued in court that the approximately 10 acres could not be successfully developed as pure residential. At all -- in spite of it being in one of the most valuable locations in the city.
We had dozens of neighborhood associations, from Atlanta, Macon and Athens supporting our amicus brief through which we supported the City's appeal. We had several hundred generous contributions from individuals and associations. This is wonderful news for this neighborhood and wonderful news for neighborhoods, cities and counties throughout the state.
Thanks to David Blum and Lem Ward of the City's Legal Department, to our neighborhood's legal team, Bob Zoeckler and Tom Bowman (of Maddox, Nix, Bowman & Zoeckler), and to the City's expert witness, Bill Kennedy, former Zoning Administrator for the City, who last year we made an honorary lifetime member of the North Buckhead Civic Association for his continuing help to our neighborhood. Thanks also to Kay Beynart, former NBCA President, who masterminded this successful campaign.
(A copy of the decision will be posted on our site when we get one which is good enough to scan.)
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