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Atlanta bans new self

Aug 16, 2023Aug 16, 2023

New warehouses, self-storage buildings and distribution centers will no longer be welcome within 500 feet of the Atlanta BeltLine.

Atlanta City Council recently approved an ordinance to ban new buildings from being erected for those uses near the multi-use trail. The zoning change corrects a proofreading mistake made during a previous update to the city's code, according to the ordinance. The error allowed Atlanta Botanical Garden to move forward with a controversial plan for a Public Storage facility on Monroe Drive near an entrance to the Eastside Trail.

The correction will not affect ABG, considering it had already filed plans for the project and secured a necessary permit in March. But the change could prevent similar proposals from taking shape on properties zoned for light industrial use near the BeltLine.

ABG agreed to build a new five-story building for Public Storage at Monroe Drive, Cooledge Avenue and Kanuga Street as part of a land swap. The company's existing self-storage location on Westminster Drive will be demolished to make room for the garden's expansion, poised to add 7 acres of greenspace and a direct connection to the BeltLine.

The project garnered steep criticism from Virginia-Highland residents, land-use advocates and urban planners. The BeltLine Design Review Committee slammed the proposal, urging ABG to consider adding retail or residential uses to the plan. It's unclear if that will happen.

"The BeltLine was envisioned as a pedestrian-friendly corridor — a way to get people out of cars, connecting with neighborhoods, walking on streets and rediscovering the pedestrian-oriented past of our wonderful city," said Stephen Causby, an urban planner representative on the committee, during a January meeting. "This project, in whatever form, will not support that."

The ban is part of a push by local leaders and community members to reshape the built environment with pedestrians and cyclists in mind. The city is considering several new regulations related to the BeltLine, such as banning new drive-thrus and gas stations within a half-mile of the multi-use trail. Another proposed change would remove parking minimums near the corridor.

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