Presentation on Neighborhood Commercial Zoning
by Aaron Fortner

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In 2008, the VHCA Neighborhood Commercial ("NC") Steering Committee completed a feasibility study of NC and delivered a set of proposed ordinances to the VHCA Board. The Board unanimously approved a recommendation to request these ordinances be submitted to the City as a formal rezoning request. The Virginia-Highland's City Council Representative Anne Fauver submitted these to the City and City Council on the neighborhood's behalf. This kicked off the formal neighborhood review and commentary process that all rezonings and variances follow. City Council was to ultimately decide whether to approve as-is, approve with modifications or deny each of these three pieces of legislation. We anticipated this process to be completed end-of-year 2008.

Neighborhood Commercial is a zoning classification that promotes redevelopment that is consistent with the size, scale, and appearance of buildings currently in our neighborhood. It impacts the three large commercial "nodes" of our neighborhood:

Area A Amsterdam Ave & N. Highland Ave
Area B Virginia Ave & N. Highland Ave
Area C Atkins Park

Critical dates for the zoning review and approval process are set forth below:
9/15/2008: NPU-F "Preview" Presentation - 7pm Hillside. No vote will be taken. This meeting is for sharing information and answering questions.
9/22: VHCA Annual Meeting Presentation - 7pm Inman Middle School Cafeteria. This will be for sharing information and answering questions.
10/6: VHCA Vote - 7pm Ponce de Leon Public Library (look online at to confirm location for this meeting).
10/20: NPU-F Vote - 7pm Hillside.
11/13: ZRB Hearing at City Hall.
11/24: CD/HR Committee Public Hearing on Land Use Changes.
11/26: Zoning Committee Public Hearing on the Zoning legislation.
Early December: City Council Vote.

We encourage you to review the following documentation to familiarze yourself with what was proposed:

09.24.08:  VHCA Planning Committee vote is to approve (unanimous) ordinances with conditions.

09.10.08:  Last commercial owner signature obtained that gives 50% or more support in all three nodes.

09.08.08:  VHCA Board unanimously approves request to submit ordinances to City to initiate formal rezoning process.

08.20.08:  Meeting with residents of Rupley Drive near Aurora to discuss feasibility of including Aurora Coffee property in NC. Decision was made to leave this out.

08.01.08:  NC scope reduced to exclude adding NC-Office parcels. Final push to establish commercial property owner support.

05.02.08:  Proposed ordinances:

Neighborhood Commercial - Draft Ordinances Submitted to City

Below is the list of ordinances as of 9-2-2008 along with supporting documentation that that summarizes key points of what is being proposed.

03.20.08:  A special meeting was held Thursday, March 20th at 7:00 PM at Inman Middle School cafeteria, to review the draft ordinances and to get community feedback.  Attendance was light and feedback generally positive. The presentation can be found here.

02.14.08:  A living room meeting was held with Arlington and Rosedale residents to gauge interest of residents for an NC-Office zoning classification.  Aaron provided a comparison between NC-Office and Residential General (RG)  Outcome can be found here.

01.15.08:  A meeting was held specifically for commercial property owners.  Rough drafts of ordinances were reviewed and feedback collected.   Meeting was very constructive.  Specific concerns raised around setbacks, parking and expanding to include support for office space.

11.28.07:  Amsterdam follow-up meeting held to refine ordinance language to limit impact of potential parking garage.   Details here.

10.24.07:  A living room meeting was help with Amsterdam residents directly impacted by the proposed rezoning of the entire Sala parking lot to NC.

10.03.07:  A meeting was held with impacted commercial property owners to present outcome of charettes. Several new participants joined. Concerns expressed about historically nonconstructive relationship with VHCA. Ideas presented on how to make NC more attractive to property owners.

09.08.07:  Charette#2 complete.  Again, some good ideas provided that will be consolidated into ordinance language.

08.04.07:  Charette#1 complete.  Lots of good ideas that Steering Committee will consolidate over the next month in preparation for final charette.

07.26.07:  Intro to NC meeting held at Inman.  Approximately 40 attendees.  Terrific presentation by Aaron and lots of good questions from crowd.

07.23.07:  VHCA thanks all hosts of the Living Room meetings.  Judging by the increased turnout at each successive meeting these were a big success!

05.31.07:  The NC Steering Committee establishes timeline to introduce NC to community.   Living room meetings will be held throughout the neighborhood during the month of July, culminating with a special Introduction to Neighborhood Commercial meeting at Inman Middle School on July 26th.

05.23.07:  NC Steering Committee begins month-long crash course on the fine details of Neighborhood Commercial Zoning

05.03.07:  The NC Steering Committee holds special meetings for commercial property owners.   Meetings were to introduce them to NC and collect feedback.

03.19.07:  Steering Committee meets with neighborhood representatives who led successful NC efforts in East Atlanta and Little Five Points.

03.19.07:  Steering Committee meets with neighborhood representatives who led successful NC efforts in East Atlanta and Little Five Points.

01.22.07:  Working framework and Statement of Principles are established:

Statement of Principles

  1. We will actively seek community feedback through multiple channels
  2. We work in good-faith for the neighborhood as a whole including home owners, residents, commercial property owners and business owners.
  3. We seek to add value to both commercial and residential property owners
  4. Maintaining scale, character and charm of the neighborhood is essential
  5. We only value constructive dialog
  6. We acknowledge that NC may be necessary to revitalize some current multi-family properties.
  7. This effort does not address broader economic and social issues essential to the health of our neighborhood
  8. We recognize that NC is not a zoning classification that provides historic preservation
  9. We strive to communicate our thoughts, objectives and goals as soon as consensus is established within the Steering Committee

01.08.07:  VHCA Hires Lord, Aeck & Sargent and Market + Main as advisors and facilitators for the NC initiative in Virginia-Highland