Varsity Jr. Closes

August 30, 2010 at 11:26 pm 1 comment

Jane Rawlings, President
Lindridge Martin Manor Neighborhood Association
 

Jane Rawlings, LMMNA President

As most of you are probably aware Varsity Jr. has closed its location on Lindbergh Drive. Much rumor and speculation exists surrounding this development and I want to present the facts. 

As background, beginning in 1999 the Cheshire Bridge Task Force was formed to examine ways to improve the corridor.  From this effort a study was completed, and, ultimately, the corridor was rezoned. While the details of the zoning are complex, the overall net desire and effect of this rezoning was to create a more pedestrian friendly environment. Many area neighborhood associations, businesses, and residents participated on this Task Force including but not limited to LMMNA and Varsity Jr. 

Fast forward 11 years when Varsity Jr. submitted an application for a Special Administrative Permit or SAP with the City of Atlanta Planning Department on February 8, 2010. As is required the Planning Department reviewed the application and plans and documented its comments. The city pointed out aspects of the plan that were inconsistent with the zoning regulations for the parcel. The Varsity Jr. property was “grandfathered” i.e. was granted legal non-conforming status when the Cheshire Bridge Corridor was rezoned as a result of the efforts of the Cheshire Bridge Task Force. Given the scope of the renovations planned (> 60%) the new regulations would have gone into effect. You can visit the city’s website for an overview of the zoning regulations for MRC-2-C. 

The applicant was advised by planning of their options to seek a Special Exception to the code. For whatever reason the applicant chose not to pursue such. Had they done so, they would have then been required to appear before the LMMNA to present their plans. LMMNA would then have made a recommendation to NPU-F as to whether or not to support the applicant’s Special Exception. NPU-F would have then made a recommendation to the BZA and, ultimately, the BZA would have decided whether or not a Special Exception was advised. 

At no time did LMMNA take any official position on this application as it never came before us, since the applicant chose to neither amend the plan, nor file for a Special Exception to the zoning regulations. 

Moving forward. . .obviously many within the community are saddened by the loss of this business. I ask, however, that area residents learn a very important lesson from this experience. First, when future applications come before us (and they will) I would recommend that folks make decisions based on the merits of the plan and not their emotional attachment to the applicant. Remember, zoning changes stick with the PROPERTY not the applicant. Properties continuously change owners so one cannot rely on the good will of an owner to act in the future best interest of the neighborhood. Instead, neighborhoods must seek zoning regulations that are in the best interest of their neighborhoods and then work to see that the City upholds them. To the best of our ability LMMNA needs to consistently and fairly apply the law. We expect the city to do the same. If, in the future, Varsity Jr. decides to re-file or seek a Special Exception, then LMMNA will have an opportunity to weigh in on the merits of granting such.  

As most of you are probably aware Varsity Jr. has closed its location on Lindbergh Drive. Much rumor and speculation exists surrounding this development and I want to present the facts. 

As background, beginning in 1999 the Cheshire Bridge Task Force was formed to examine ways to improve the corridor.  From this effort a study was completed, and, ultimately, the corridor was rezoned. While the details of the zoning are complex, the overall net desire and effect of this rezoning was to create a more pedestrian friendly environment. Many area neighborhood associations, businesses, and residents participated on this Task Force including but not limited to LMMNA and Varsity Jr. 

Fast forward 11 years when Varsity Jr. submitted an application for a Special Administrative Permit or SAP with the City of Atlanta Planning Department on February 8, 2010. As is required the Planning Department reviewed the application and plans and documented its comments. The city pointed out aspects of the plan that were inconsistent with the zoning regulations for the parcel. The Varsity Jr. property was “grandfathered” i.e. was granted legal non-conforming status when the Cheshire Bridge Corridor was rezoned as a result of the efforts of the Cheshire Bridge Task Force. Given the scope of the renovations planned (> 60%) the new regulations would have gone into effect. You can visit the city’s website for an overview of the zoning regulations for MRC-2-C.  

The applicant was advised by planning of their options to seek a Special Exception to the code. For whatever reason the applicant chose not to pursue such. Had they done so, they would have then been required to appear before the LMMNA to present their plans. LMMNA would then have made a recommendation to NPU-F as to whether or not to support the applicant’s Special Exception. NPU-F would have then made a recommendation to the BZA and, ultimately, the BZA would have decided whether or not a Special Exception was advised.  

At no time did LMMNA take any official position on this application as it never came before us, since the applicant chose to neither amend the plan, nor file for a Special Exception to the zoning regulations.  

Moving forward. . .obviously many within the community are saddened by the loss of this business. I ask, however, that area residents learn a very important lesson from this experience. First, when future applications come before us (and they will) I would recommend that folks make decisions based on the merits of the plan and not their emotional attachment to the applicant. Remember, zoning changes stick with the PROPERTY not the applicant. Properties continuously change owners so one cannot rely on the good will of an owner to act in the future best interest of the neighborhood. Instead, neighborhoods must seek zoning regulations that are in the best interest of their neighborhoods and then work to see that the City upholds them. To the best of our ability LMMNA needs to consistently and fairly apply the law. We expect the city to do the same. If, in the future, Varsity Jr. decides to re-file or seek a Special Exception, then LMMNA will have an opportunity to weigh in on the merits of granting such.

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Entry filed under: Business Development, Pedestrians, Planning, Traffic, Urban Design. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

2010 Taste & Tour of Cheshire Bridge Road Better Block 2

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jessica  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Well, on the plus side, I can skip by the neighborhood when I go to my vet now. I’ve been going to the Varsity, Jr since I was *born.* That’d be 29 years now, and getting rid of staple that INCREASES revenue while keeping away the dodgey vibe up Cheshire Bridge is counterproductive, for me, as someone throwing money into the pool. I lived at Garden Hills, which isn’t so far away, and I frequently use Lindbergh MARTA because I can leave my car and feel relatively safe.

    Sorry, but this leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. It’s ridiculous to throw them under the bus. Needless to say, I’ll be very selective when helping support this community.

    Good to know, though. Good job in forcing my hand by getting rid of something had steady income, provided jobs, and generally gave BACK to the community. Emotional? You bet. Perhaps a little housekeeping from the association is in order, as well. After all, you got rid many people’s reasons for stopping by and have allowed for MORE building in an area already overrun with traffic problems and inability to walk across without fearing for your life to be more “pedestrian friendly.”

    I grew up on Toco Hills, and when my godmother lived at Post Briarcliff after moving back from out-of-state, I appreciated the diverse feel. Kind of glad I moved out of Atlanta if this going on.

    RIP one of the best places that Atlanta had in providing good customer service and remembered you. Oh, that’s right. Corporations are better. Let’s hope all those empty overbuilt mixed residential buildings areas help you out instead.

    I just wonder who’ll take over. I’m sure someone’s already asked. Oh, wait. The economy doesn’t work that way right now. So instead, you end up with an broken down eyesore that’ll help no one.

    Excellent job.

    Reply

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