Tucker City Council greenlights development with 60 workforce housing units

A map showing the location of 2059 Northlake Parkway in Tucker

Tucker, GA — Two residential development applications were presented this week at Tucker City Council.

Tucker Exchange presented a second read. It’s a project to convert an office building at 2059 Northlake Parkway into mixed-use residential development with 15% of workforce housing units.

The plan calls for converting the existing building into work/live units, while adding two 6- and 7-story residential buildings. Neighbors asked for the change to be considered over the course of several city meetings. AHS Residential changed the site plan as late as May 6 by reducing density by 100 units, adding retail/restaurant space and increasing green space on the property.

A minimum of 15% of 409 units will be workforce housing units, defined as housing that is affordable to households earning between 80 and 140% of area median income (AMI).

Councilmember Alexis Weaver said the Tucker Exchange project gives the city an opportunity to think about creating more affordability across the city.

“This is a great opportunity for middle-class workers to have access to entrepreneurial opportunities because they have the same access to that live/work model,” Weaver said. “Folks who wouldn’t always have access to this level of amenities, the green space, the coworking space, the trails, the future connectivity.”

She also the city worked to codify enforceable workforce housing regulations.

“The Occupational Tax Certificate is connected to providing the workforce housing, so there is a control in place in these conditions. The license renewal is dependent upon adhering to these workforce conditions,” said Weaver.

Tucker residents speaking against the application questioned the affordability of units, increase in traffic and lack of amenities.

City council members voted:

– 5-2 to allow increased density through a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP). Mayor Frank Auman and Councilmember Noelle Monferdini voted no.

– 6-1 on four variances to allow increased front yard setbacks, parking spaces close to Northlake Parkway, the elimination of block and street stub-out requirements and the elimination of inter parcel access requirements. Councilmember Noelle Monferdini voted no on each variance.

Rezoning of five parcels on Lawrenceville Highway

Embry Development Company presented to Tucker City Council a first read of an application to rezone five parcels on Lawrenceville Highway near Bishop Drive to build a townhome development. Rezoning from R-75 (residential) to RSM (small lot residential mix) would allow the development of 52 townhomes on 9 acres.

Residents in the area previously fought off development in this location. Tucker Planning Commission recommended denial of the application in December 2017 with a 4-1 vote, followed by city council voting 5-2 to deny the application in April 2018.

When Embry held a public participation meeting on Feb. 3, neighbors showed up in force. The plan went on to Planning Commission, who voted to recommend approval of the development on April 21.

Councilmember Cara Schroeder said she has heard from residents the development does not fit into the comprehensive plan.

“If that was the case, would we be making some other motions? Would you have different recommendations?” Schroeder asked.

Planning and Zoning Director Courtney Smith said the plan is consistent with the comprehensive plan.

“RSM is an allowable zoning district in the suburban character area. Townhomes are a permitted primary land use for the comprehensive plan for the suburban character area, and the suburban character area allows between four and six units per acre, and the application is at 5.9,” said Smith.

John Larose, neighbor of the proposed development, said the plan doesn’t contribute to four of the five major goals of the comprehensive plan.

“Arguably, it detracts from Goals 1 and 3 to enhance downtown and to preserve and improve existing neighborhoods. It does nothing to improve transportation connections or to strengthen recreational and community resources, unless you consider a bark park and open detention pond community resources. Or if you if like mosquitoes,” said Larose.

Creighton Lankford, a member of the Tucker Downtown Development Authority who said he was speaking only as a resident of Tucker, said there’s a lack of inventory driving prices up and making it difficult for people to find their first home.

“Most homes are attracting multiple bidders,” said Langford. “We need more inventory in Tucker.”

Alex Hall is in support of development, but not the loss of wildlife habitat.

“Bring on the development. We love it. We’re all for it. We just want to develop as zoned,” said Hall.

Concerns about stormwater management were addressed by City Engineer Ken Hildebrandt. The applicant will be required to get a Land Disturbance Permit (LDP) and conduct a hydrology study, he said.

Embry will come before City Council for a second read on June 13.

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