Woodstock approves downtown expansion
by Joshua Sharpe
July 10, 2013 12:22 AM | 2586 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WOODSTOCK — The Woodstock City Council voted Monday to approve a major expansion of the city’s plans to revitalize downtown.

The City Council voted unanimously during its regular meeting to approve a more than three-fold expansion of the boundaries to the Downtown Woodstock Urban Redevelopment Plan.

The present urban redevelopment area was approved in 2009 and includes part of East Main Street, Maple Street, Hickory Street and the Park at City Center.

As part of the expansion, a stretch of Highway 92 east of Interstate 575, including the Woodstock Place Shopping Center and an area around Parkway 575 will be added to the plan. An expansion around Towne Lake Parkway and Arnold Mill Road east of I-575 and a large chunk of land off of Ingram Street also will be added, the plan showed.

City officials have said the plan is to encourage development and offer more businesses a chance to be included in the Opportunity Zone and the tax breaks that come along with it.

Also during the meeting Monday night, the council voted unanimously to give a series of code enforcement breaks to franchisees hoping to open up a Del Taco restaurant in a former Wendy’s restaurant building on Highway 92.

Council members have previously voiced concerns that the plans for the proposed renovation to the building would not fit into building codes of the downtown district where the restaurant would be located.

Community Development Director Jessica Guinn told the council Monday night that since hearing its concerns, the applicants have made concessions to make the design more similar to other development on this portion of Highway 92.

“They incorporated a lot more brick in the building,” Guinn said. “That brings it a little more in line (with other buildings) on the Highway 92 corridor.”

Guinn detailed for the council the list of variances requested by the applicant outside of existing code like parking, landscaping and distance from the road.

However, Guinn said most were being requested because of the position on the property of the existing building, which they hope to renovate.

“There are a number of requirements of the downtown district that they would not be in compliance with,” Guinn said. “The way the downtown district is outlined, they would be required to bring that building up to the street. That’s one of the things that they’re not going to be able to do in order to utilize the existing building.”

City Manager Jeff Moon agreed that the issues come from the fact that the developers cannot move the building.

“It’s because the building was built where it was, and it was built a Wendy’s,” Moon said. The variances from the downtown code are ‘due to the existing condition of the building and not because of anything they’re going to do to the building.’ “

The City Council approved the variances for the business on an itemized list instead of granting a “blanket” exemption from downtown code at the suggestion of Councilman Chris Casdia.

The council also voted unanimously to postpone action on an appeal of a denied request to put up a billboard on Rope Mill Road.

David Tinsley and Bob Postiglione put in a request for a sign permit to place a billboard on the property in May but had their request denied due to zoning issues.

City Attorney Eldon Basham told the council that Tinsley and Postiglione have now asked for more time to complete a survey of the site and gather information to defend their request.

“(The applicant) sent a letter saying their surveyor has been unavailable and hasn’t been able to finish,” Basham said, recommending that the City Council grant the request and extend the three-week window the council previously gave them for the survey.

The council voted to act on the appeal at its next regular meeting.

During the meeting Monday night, the City Council also:

• Voted unanimously to grant a temporary alcohol license to the Firebreather Challenge event taking place at Olde Rope Mill Park Aug. 17 and 18. The Firebreather Challenge is 7-8 mile obstacle course race through nature which is expected to draw about 1,000 people to the park over the August weekend.

• Unanimously approved giving a temporary alcohol license to the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta for its grand opening weekend.

• Voted unanimously

to approve reimbursements for the mayor and council for meals and mileage.

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