Friday, August 17, 2018

[UPDATE] Developer Makes an End Run to Avoid Neighbors & DeKalb Process Via Brookhaven Annexation

Brookhaven resident Jay Gipson of development firm The Gipson Company, has in recent weeks hatched a plan to have his proposed redevelopment site in unincorporated DeKalb County annexed into the City of Brookhaven.  If successful, Gipson would undoubtedly have a much easier time getting his redevelopment approved, given that Brookhaven has little to lose and everything to gain by allowing the project to move forward.  The redevelopment includes a total of nine parcels, totaling just under four acres, at the corner of Clairmont and Briarcliff Roads.  


Gipson, who first brought his proposal to area residents last December, plans to replace the many derelict and abandoned buildings with a new RaceTrac, Wendy's and Express Oil Change & Tune-Up Clinic.  The project has been delayed for months as he dealt with disgruntled neighbors and the DeKalb County Planning Commission which voted in April to deny the numerous variances and SLUPs (Special Land Use Permits) Gipson was seeking.  ToNeTo Atlanta reported in late June that Gipson had withdrawn his requests

The thinking at the time was that Gipson had withdrawn his requests to avoid the two year wait that would have resulted had he not withdrawn them and had his requests been voted down by a majority of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.  

ToNeTo Atlanta previously supported the redevelopment plan as not perfect, but a good use of the space, given its current status and location off I-85.  That said, Gipson's duplicitous behavior gives us pause in our support of him and his project.  Gipson has previously indicated that he wanted to be seen as "your friendly neighborhood developer," one who is invested in the community and its wishes as much as he is invested in his development.

The saying that "actions speak louder than words" is no more true than in this instance.  Gipson's actions in this case show he is not genuinely concerned with involving neighbors in a development that will unquestionably affect their quality of life.  Instead, it shows, come hell or high water, he will figure out a way to get his project approved.  

Brookhaven stands to gain tax revenue from the development, while its residents, none of whom live in the immediate area, don't stand to be impacted by the noise or traffic created if the project moves forward, so why would they object?  

Residents of the nearby Riviera Terrace condo community, some of whom have units facing the subject property, were some of the most vocal against the redevelopment.  Their primary concern was noise (and light) from the Wendy's drive-thru window late at night.  Given their community is not currently within the City of Brookhaven, nor are they included in any upcoming annexation requests, they have essentially no say in the decision-making process yet stand to be most directly impacted.  

If Brookhaven does annex the property and approve the project, it would be at least the second project the city would have facilitated that stands to severely adversely impact  traffic for residents in the Toco Hills, Briarcliff Woods and Sagamore Hills communities.  

Brookhaven's annexation and approval of CHOA's overall campus development is expected to add as many as 10,000 vehicles daily to the roads surrounding their campus, especially Briarcliff and Clairmont Roads.  Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Center for Advanced Pediatrics, which opened late last month on the site of the former Executive Park Motor Hotel, is just the beginning of a billion dollar plus redevelopment of assorted property on land annexed into Brookhaven.   
CHOA's longterm campus vision 

Signage at the subject property indicates that the rezoning request will be heard before the Brookhaven Planning Commission at a public hearing on Wednesday, September 5.  A separate public hearing to discuss the annexation and rezoning request is due to be heard by the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday, September 26. 

While it may seem odd for the rezoning to be heard before the annexation request, the planning commission merely makes a recommendation while it is the city council and Mayor who will actually decide the fate of the request.  

Both meetings will be held at City of Brookhaven Council Chambers at 4362 Peachtree Road, between TOWN Brookhaven and Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven.  

Jay Gipson has not returned any of ToNeTo Atlanta's calls over the past few months including our most recent one earlier today seeking comment on the proposed annexation.  

What are your thoughts on Gipson's latest move?  Do you think Brookhaven should be able to approve the annexation and rezoning?  If not the currently proposed tenants, what would you like to see open on this property?

Please share your thoughts below  

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cue the "Lavista Hills would have prevented this" comments. Probably, but it's the annexation madness that is the root of the evil. According to the property tax records, the apartment complex owns the easement between the target properties and 85. As far as I know, he'd have to buy that easement first in order to have a contiguous border with Brookhaven (also AFAIK this is a requirement of annexation). So perhaps the apartment complex has some bargaining power.

Unknown said...

I do not remember if you covered this story in Decatur where the developer successfully got the city to annex properties to get around county zoning regulations. https://decaturish.com/2018/06/decatur-approves-annexation-for-more-apartments-in-split-vote-capping-an-unusual-process/

Disgruntled Neighbor said...

Welcome into the light, Tomorrow's News Today!

Anonymous said...

Why is the county not objecting to the continued pilfering of commercial property by Brookhaven. They absolutely have the right to do so. Residents need to get on their county commissioners (I would suggest Rader and Jester) and press them to object. It is not automatic that this is approved, and Brookhaven will have to do a fair amount of work to prove the impact on county is minimal. At the very lea sf t it screws with Gipson for a few months. As a fellow developer, moves like this from people like this give those of us that do it right a bad reputation.

Anonymous said...

Good lord, I've never seen so much coverage on something so absurdly boring as this piece of land.

Unknown said...

This needs to be stopped. Brookhaven has been to aggressive. GDOT has to get involved first and either expand one or two more lanes. The traffic now is a nightmare and getting worse. It cannot handle more traffic the way it is!!!

Anonymous said...

The apartments are requesting annexation, too.

Unknown said...

Will this improve the area around the site. Let's not make this a shame on Brookhaven campaign. Will it improve the area?

muddygun said...

I’m fine with it being developed, but it doesn’t need to be a gas station / Wendy’s. We need something like a dessert stand or some non-fast food joint.

Anonymous said...

This is Radar and Gannons district not Jester. And did this hippie just say a dessert stand on a 2 million piece of property ? Lol

Anonymous said...

It is also illegal to deny a zoning request in the state of Georgia for traffic issues. Traffic is a problem for the government that owns the roads not the private property. You can request deceleration lanes though not not deny something due to traffic

muddygun said...

Pretty sure if I was a hippie I would say it doesn’t need to be developed at all. I’m taking into consideration the area and what I think would get a lot of people from the area into it’s store. I think one of the things I mentioned would. Pretty sure dessert shops are not synonymous with hippies, unless your just trying to be mean and drawing at straws.

Anonymous said...

To Unknown - I guess the answer to "Will it improve the area" should be answered by those most directly affected by it. Maybe we should hold some public meetings and get their thoughts on the subject, and then make a ruling? Oh, wait, right, that's already happened. So instead, we will go hold other public hearings, where the decision makers are not beholden to the residents of the area, and them dictate what happens. Makes total sense

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 6:02 PM

Nothing has been denied for traffic reasons. The developer withdrew his request in DeKalb because it was facing certain denial over residential buffer issues. Basically, his development doesn't fit on that skinny lot.

He needs to take that plan OTP where it really belongs.

Anonymous said...

Since when is a Wendy's, an Express Oil Change or a gas station a destination that will increase traffic? They aren't. They will be visited by folks who are already traveling the road and decide to gas up, grab a bite to eat, or pop in for a quick oil change since they are already sitting in traffic.

I'm not a fan of Gipson by any means but I think the neighbors here would fight any realistic development of those parcels. That is simply an anti-develop, anti-change area.

And anyone who does not want a state of the art children's hospital there sucks. CHOA has outgrown its Egleston campus and needed to move somewhere nearby. the new location has much better interstate access than the current location.

Anonymous said...

We don’t need anything there. Let the businesses close up and let the earth take back the land. We can make hamburgers at home. And there are lots of gas stations all over Atlanta. Dilapidated buildings reclaimed by weeds and trees are better. And add some dumped tires and rats. Much much better. Or put up a lemonade stand or Lucy’s Psychiatric Help booth.

Anonymous said...

the residents in this area are delusional. Anything looks better than what is there. You are not going to get any better options than a gas station and some form of quick serve/fast food for this location.

Anonymous said...

Not true— on any counts. RaceTrac’s own traffic study says half of the 6,141 vehicles expected to pull in and out of that store will be vehicles that otherwise would not be passing through that intersection. That’s a big increase in traffic.

No one fought CHOA. The neighbors want realistic development, but not some oversized, unnecessary, out-of-sync junk.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jay! Glad you and the Mrs. are weighing in! Hail Mary!

Anonymous said...

I call BS on those numbers. Where are these 3k+ vehicles coming from who will suddenly change their route so they can go to.......RaceTrac?!?! There's already gas stations at the intersection so it's not like people are going to suddenly start flooding the area because there is now gas there. And RaceTrac is not IKEA. 3k+ more vehicles? over how long? a year? the life of the station? If they think that they are going to draw 3,000 additional vehicles they are nearly as delusional as the area residents who think that a local sit down restaurant could survive there!


Anonymous said...

https://www.reporternewspapers.net/2017/04/28/choa-faces-questions-planned-expansion-brookhaven/

Neighbors complained about CHOA like they complain about any new development in that area. I guess 20 acres of greenspace isn't enough.

Anonymous said...

LOL @ anyone changing their route just to go to a RaceTrac. The people that live in this area are so dumb and gullible. They deserve the blighted corner.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 11:25 AM They're coming from I-85 and all those new billboards RaceTrac is running all over the city. Those are RaceTrac's own numbers per 24-hour period. You can find the traffic study online. Might want to do a little light research next time before you comment.

@Anonymous 11:29 AM There's nothing in that article that indicates people fought it. I went to two of the three meetings. There were plenty of questions asked, to be sure. But no one fought it. CHOA also put up many millions of dollars for the upcoming redesign of the North Druid Hills interchange. Is Jay ready to do that for the Clairmont interchange?

Bueller? Bueller? I didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

If you believe that Racetrac is going to draw 3k extra vehicles per day to that site, I have a cool bridge in New Mexico to sell you. It spans the Mississippi River. There's a post on the internet if you want to research it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe somebody should tell RaceTrac. it's their study. They might not want to build at that location if it can't draw enough customers to that site. it's sure planning an awful lot of fueling stations, especially considering the low-quality gas they sell. I wouldn't put it in my Mercedes.

Anonymous said...

RIP Waffle House #10.

Anonymous said...

I hope the annexation gets approved. This corner is horrendous and needs to be redeveloped. The "disgruntled neighbors" forced the developer's hand and I don't blame him for going in a different direction to get his plans approved. They left him with no choice with their unreasonable demands.

They simply don't understand that they can't force a "dessert stand" or Trader Joe's to open on that corner. The market is saying that the highest and best use for the corner is a RaceTrac, Wendy's and Express Oil.

If they don't want it developed than they should raise the $6M to purchase the property. It's always NIMBY as long as it doesn't cost me anything.

Anonymous said...

In my view every corner should have a Mom and Pop sandwich a shop. Instead of all these burger and chicken joints.

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